The evidence is what he did Monday against the Reds, striking out 11 over 6 1/3 shutout innings in what manager Gabe Kapler called "about as an electric a performance by a pitcher as we've seen since I've been here in San Francisco." But don't take his word for it:
In a certain respect, it's not surprising. Harrison was, after all, a consensus top-25 prospect coming into the season, and some lists had him as the top left-handed pitching prospect period. There was no disputing his stuff, which was evident in his 14.6 K/9 across three minor-league seasons. You'll notice in the highlights that most of his strikeouts came on the fastball, which is something that typically only the most high-end pitchers can do. You'll also notice that most of the swings-and-misses were underneath the fastball.
For most of the game's history, velocity was presumed to be the most important characteristic for a fastball, but in more recent years, we've learned that's not the case. Pitchers whose fastballs appear to rise due to their optimal release point and vertical approach angle can thrive even with a fastball in the low 90s, and Harrison is cranking his in there at 95. Add a deceptive, almost sidearm delivery, and that pitch can be next to unhittable for him. It might be the only pitch he needs, really -- and indeed, he threw it 68 percent of the time Monday -- but when he's also able to bury his slider down in the zone, changing the hitter's eye level, it opens the door to complete domination.
But if the stuff is so great, why wasn't there a mad rush to the waiver wire when the Giants announced Harrison's promotion a week ago? And why is he available in more than half of CBS Sports leagues even now?
Frankly, the flaws overshadowed the strengths. Yes, he had 14.5 K/9 between two minor-league stops this year (mostly at Triple-A Sacramento), but he also had a 4.52 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. The real back-breaker, though, was the 6.4 BB/9.
If a bunch of no-names could figure out that the best method of attack against Harrison was simply not to swing, then wouldn't the best hitters in the world do the same? And even if he managed to avoid the big inning because of his strikeouts, wouldn't his pitch count become untenable?
That was certainly true in the minors. You know how many times Harrison went the minimum five innings required for a win? Exactly once. And he never went the minimum required for a quality start.
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There's one achievement unlocked at the big-league level, but what about the walks? So far, he has just three in 9 2/3 innings, but perhaps the more telling stat is that 65 percent of his pitches during that time have been strikes. That's compared to 59 percent in the minors. The average is 64 percent, which means Harrison's strike-throwing has suddenly gone from well below average to slightly above average.
Here's where things gets interesting. The turnaround didn't begin with his major-league debut Aug. 22. In his final two minor-league appearances, Harrison threw 73 percent of his pitches for strikes, walking no one over 7 1/3 innings. Could that be what prompted his promotion? The Giants have already said as much.
"The last couple of outings, I think he's taken some real steps forward," manager Gabe Kapler said at the time. "We think he's ready to come up and help us win baseball games."
The knee-jerk response is that it's too small of a sample to say he's changed, but of course, the Giants have more sophisticated metrics at their disposal than walks and strike rate. And besides, by the time there's a large enough sample, Harrison will be long gone. Sometimes -- and this is particularly true in the prospecting world -- small samples are all we get. Since we're not privy to the Giants' internal evaluations, we're left to follow our gut.
So what does your gut say? Mine says that Harrison turned the corner in those last two minor-league starts. The Giants noticed and called him up, and the majors don't quite know what's hit them yet. But they'll soon learn it's a supremely talented pitcher who recently learned what to do with those talents and is well on his way to becoming one of the dominant forces in the game.
Maybe I'm wrong and he walks five next time out. Maybe the Giants limit him to 80 pitches most outings, making the wins hard to come by. We could fixate on all the ways it could go wrong for Harrison, but we've seen what going right looks like. And particularly now that Ragans is more than 80 percent rostered in CBS Sports leagues, there isn't anyone else on the waiver wire who can come close.
Follow the Giants' lead on this one. Show a little faith in Harrison.