Winter 2022 magazine

Phillies pitcher Kyle Gibson makes World Series debut, thankful to God for 'incredible' journey

Kyle Gibson has never known when he might be called upon during the Philadelphia Phillies’ remarkable postseason run. Moved from the starting pitching rotation to the bullpen for the playoffs, he didn’t appear in the team’s wild card or division series, but made one appearance in the NLCS.

There was a chance he’d start Game 5 of the World Series once Game 3 was postponed from Monday to Tuesday because of rain. But Gibson ended up on the mound Tuesday night instead.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

He entered in the seventh inning with Philadelphia leading Houston 7-0, thanks to five home runs in the first five innings. Gibson got Yuli Gurriel to fly out to center field and struck out David Hensley before giving up a single to Chas McCormick. The next batter, Martín Maldonado, grounded out to end the inning.

Gibson has now thrown 2.1 scoreless frames this postseason, allowing two hits and a walk. He went 10-8 in 31 starts and logged 167.2 innings pitched during the regular season, his first full year with the team.

That helped Philadelphia get to the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Gibson’s only other playoff appearance was in 2019 when he was with Minnesota. Tuesday night marked his World Series debut.

Even though Gibson’s postseason role might be a limited one, Phillies manager Rob Thompson values the leadership the 35-year-old brings to a team without much playoff experience.

“He’s been great,” Thomson said of Gibson on Monday. “He’s a pro. … He’s been a leader down there and helping people stay calm and poised and it’s been great.”

An All-Star with the Texas Rangers in 2021, Gibson was sent to Philadelphia at last year’s trade deadline as the Phillies tried and failed to end their postseason drought. He actually could’ve been a Phillie 15 years earlier when the team drafted him out of high school, but he chose to attend the University of Missouri instead.

“[It is] pretty cool to be back in the organization where it could’ve started back in 2006,” Gibson said on Sports Spectrum’s “Get in the Game” podcast in May. “God’s timing is perfect, and the path that He’s had me on has been an incredible one. I wouldn’t go back and change it for anything, so just glad to be here now and getting this chance.”

The Minnesota Twins took Gibson in the first round of the 2009 draft, and he made his big league debut for the team in 2013. He spent seven years in Minnesota before signing with the Rangers as a free agent in 2020.

Throughout his career, Gibson has lived out his faith by serving in various ways, including his work with Big League Impact, the organization founded by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright.

“Really, our goal is to provide hope for people in their lives where there’s no hope, restore dignity and try to help them feed their families and help lift them out of poverty and help themselves lift themselves out of poverty,” Gibson said on the podcast. “There’s a lot of ways Big League Impact is doing that today.”

Gibson has battled health issues and struggled on the mound at various points in his career, and prior to this season had never been on a team that won a playoff series. Yet, no matter how unlikely pitching in the World Series may have seemed at times, Gibson never stopped trusting in the plan God had for him.

“I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and our story, thankfully, it’s a part of a bigger story, right?” he said on “Get in the Game.” “It’s a part of God’s story of all of humanity and everything that goes on. I believe that my story is being written every single day. I’m given struggles, I’m given triumphs for many different reasons.”

Philadelphia’s 7-0 win in Game 3 gave the team a 2-1 lead in the series with Games 4 and 5 to be played at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park. Game 4 is Wednesday night, with the first pitch at 8:03 p.m. ET.

RELATED STORIES:
GET IN THE GAME PODCAST: Kyle Gibson – Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher
Kyle Gibson donating to faith-based food pantry for every strikeout this season
Kyle Gibson emerging as Texas Rangers’ ace as he lives with faith on display
Catcher J.T. Realmuto helps Phillies reach NLCS while keeping Christ at the center
Pitcher Aaron Nola helps Phillies snap playoff drought as he trusts God’s plan