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Kyle Harrison scratched from tonight’s Triple-A start............................

The Giants’ top pitching prospect would seem to be the next prospect up...

Rear Window Photo by LMPC via Getty Images

I logged on for my late afternoon dopamine hit only to see Kyle Harrison, the top pitching prospect for the San Francisco Giants, trending on Twitter and quickly investigated. He’s been scratched from his scheduled start tonight for the Sacramento River Cats — LOOK:

In yesterday’s series preview, I noted that there was a very good chance we could see Harrison make his debut in this series and on Monday’s Giants Chroncast with former McCovey Chronicles contributor, Doug Bruzzone, we also speculated that this run of positive contributions from the farm system could compel the Giants to keep the talent pipeline flowing.

Harrison’s last start was his first 5-inning start of the season. The team has limited his innings for the entire season up until last week and the possible reasons for that run from bummer to intriguing:

Bummer reasoning: the Giants are trying to revamp the team’s pitching plan throughout the organization with a developmental slogan like “Everybody’s Sean Manaea!”

Intriguing reasoning: Research shows that the rate of innings is even more important than the total innings pitched when it comes to the health of young arms. That extra month of the major league season can be a killer, and so the Giants are either trying to save him for that or lower the odds of him sustaining severe injury.

All that said, there’s just as likely an explanation for this:

Teng’s performance this season has been overlooked by most of us, but he’s been really solid. 68 strikeouts against 20 walks in 47.1 IP for Richmond this season. A 4.75 ERA (not great) and 1.225 WHIP, but a sparkling 12.9 K/9 along with a 0.8 HR/9. The Giants have placed Teng on the same program as Harrison, with most of his starts this season coming with a strict pitch count perhaps designed to limit him to 4 innings per start but because of his command-control issues (he was walking and hitting batters a lot in the early going) it usually netted out in the 2-3 range.

In Teng’s last two starts, however, he’s gone 5 innings in both and has a line of

10 IP
0.90 WHIP
1.80 ERA
1 HRA
13 K
2 BB

So, it’s very easy to make the case that the Giants are postponing Harrison a day to keep him on regular rest and it’s just a weird coincidence that the Giants’ starter is TBD for tomorrow night’s game against Yu Darvish.

Just for comparison’s sake, here’s the line for Harrison’s last two starts:

9.1 IP
0.99 WHIP
2.97 ERA
2 HRA
14 K
3 BB

I don’t know what I’m actually comparing here because Teng’s numbers are against Double-A hitters while Harrison has faced Triple-A hitters in a higher run scoring environment. It’s certainly a line worthy of consideration for a start tomorrow, and maybe the calculation is simply a matter of looking ahead to see if this is the moment to bring him up for good — there’s definitely a case to be made that bringing him up to spot start might not be in his best interest, and that the team would prefer to bring him up with the goal of finishing his development in the majors.

Another counter to the idea that tonight’s scratch could mean a call-up tomorrow: the Padres have been a much better team against left-handed pitching this season:

vs RHP (1904 PA) - .219/.316/.374 (.690)
vs LHP (804) - .249/.323/.445 (.768)

Still, the main reason why this trended is because people are excited by the Giants’ player development pipeline. The talent is flowing like spice and Giants fans are ready to trip out.