Giants’ Gabe Kapler picks John Brebbia for high leverage situation in Game 1

At this time last season, John Brebbia was still slowly coming back from Tommy John surgery, and he never quite found himself where he wanted to be as things progressed last year, with an ERA of 5.89.

So he made a pretty big statement on Friday that Giants manager Gabe Kapler picked Brebbia to kick off the 10th inning with the score tied and a phantom runner placed second, an indication that Brebbia could be in line for more. work of this type.

“Brebbia looked awesome at camp,” Kapler said Saturday. “When we identified Brebbia as a good fit for our club when he was with St. Louis, he was excellent in the best places for this team. And last year he didn’t do anything to make us feel like it wasn’t there yet.

In the Giants’ 6-5 opening day win, Brebbia walked the first batter he faced but then got a flyout and a fielder’s pick before Jose Alvarez took over for a strikeout of three pitches.

Brebbia’s fastball, which was 92.9 mph last year, hit 96.6 mph. And its slider was up 3-4 mph, to 84.3-86.2 mph.

“In spring training, we saw more power on the breaking ball, which we were hoping for,” Kapler said. “He kept attacking the area with his fastball, throwing a ton of shots. He had a pretty good batting and he just kept attacking, so that’s exactly what we expect from him.

“It’s just kind of a steady upward trend, which is really good,” said Brebbia, 31, who has nearly two years of surgery. “Something you hope never ends. Eventually it will, but every month since March or April of last year has been better than the month before.

“I definitely feel better this year than this time last year. And so far things have been up to where I would like, but the biggest key is consistency. It’s good that it happens once, but if it’s not the same next week, then that’s the unfortunate part.

Gaining the confidence to kick off the first game in a difficult situation. Is it meaningful for Brebbia given everything he’s been through in the past two years?

“I trust myself, I trust myself, because I’m an arrogant lunatic,” he said with a big smile. “How they feel would be a question for them.”

Friday was Brebbia’s first time using the new PitchCom system in a game and it took a little tweaking as the sold out crowd was so loud; catcher Joey Bart told him to wait a few beats until things quieted down so he could hear the pitch pick being transmitted.

“It was actually quite funny, when there was music and ambient noise, I tried to cover my ear with my glove to see if I could hear it better,” Brebbia said. “But I loved it and hope everyone enjoys using it.”

Susan Slusser covers the Giants for The San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected]: @susanslusser