SAN DIEGO — One day, the Giants believe, Kyle Harrison will receive Cy Young votes, if not become the first pitcher since Tim Lincecum to bring the hardware home to Oracle Park. He did nothing to dispel that notion in an electrifying home debut.
And for his next act, the Giants’ top pitching prospect will put his Cy Young chops to the test against the front-runner for the award this year. Following up his 6⅓ shutout innings and 11 strikeouts against the Reds, Harrison will square off against Padres lefty Blake Snell on Saturday, the club announced.
Snell leads all NL starters in bWAR and ERA and ranks second in strikeouts per nine innings.
Harrison threw a season-high 91 pitches Monday and often operated on five or more days rest in the minor leagues. But manager Gabe Kapler indicated they are ready to ride his left arm down the stretch, partial payoff for closely monitoring his workload in the minors earlier this season.
“What I would say is when you’re in your early to mid 20s, your body can handle a lot,” Kapler said.
Alex Cobb, in his mid-30s, will also stay on regular rest and start Sunday’s series finale. He threw 131 pitches Wednesday while coming up one out shy of a no-hitter.
That’s twice in the span of a week that Kapler, despite his reputation for paying close attention to pitch counts and workloads, allowed his starter to push past his comfort zone. It’s taken a change of heart, Kapler acknowledged, in comparison to the start of his managerial career.
“I would have been less comfortable five years ago with both of those moves than I am today,” Kapler said. “And where I am today is: good with it. The game sort of called for it. Cobb was having a historic outing. Harrison was having a historic outing. You don’t have those all that often. It felt right. The bottom line is that the players are almost always going to dictate the move. If they’re the right guy to get the next couple of hitters out, it’s gonna be unusual that we go get them.”
Out with a forearm strain that compromised his ability to catch up to fastballs, Brandon Crawford expressed optimism that he could return this weekend.
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Crawford, 36, took full-effort swings in the batting cage the past two days and said he felt good. Still dealing with nagging knee soreness, he was set to run the bases before Thursday’s game and said he was eyeing Saturday or Sunday for a possible return.
Crawford, however, also said he hoped to return when eligible, which came and passed Tuesday without him being activated. Kapler said he and the coaching staff are checking in with Crawford on a daily basis.
“I know he’s starting to get the itch,” Kapler said. “He’s swinging the bat again. That’s getting better and better. I don’t think it’s perfect yet. We’ll just encourage him and encourage us to feel like he’s going to feel good each day.”
— On a related note, IF Paul DeJong was taking ground balls at third base during pregame drills. … OF A.J. Pollock (oblique) and RHP Ross Stripling (back) will both begin rehab assignments with Triple-A Sacramento on Friday. Stripling is scheduled to pitch three innings.