The Phillies host the Giants this week in a pivotal series between the two teams at the top of the National League Wild Card standings. The Giants’ No. 1 prospect, 22-year-old lefty Kyle Harrison, will make his MLB debut Tuesday night against the Phillies’ Taijuan Walker.
The Phillies are the betting favorites with -148 moneyline odds, while the over/under is set at 9 runs. The prediction here is that the Phillies win and the over hits.
Giants vs. Phillies Prediction
Starting pitchers: LHP Kyle Harrison (MLB debut) vs. RHP Taijuan Walker (13-5, 4.03 ERA)
Welcome to the big leagues, Kyle Harrison.
Harrison is not only the Giants’ No. 1 prospect and the No. 20 overall prospect in MLB’s official rankings, but he is also ranked as the No. 2 pitcher and the No. 1 left-handed pitcher. He is considered the Giants’ best pitching prospect since Madison Bumgarner.
Heading into the season, Harrison was expected to be called up early in the season, but he was ironing out some command issues in Triple-A and also dealt with a hamstring injury. He now appears to have gotten his command under control and joins the Giants at the perfect time, as they have been getting by with just two starting pitchers – Logan Webb and Alex Cobb – while relying heavily on openers and long relievers.
Harrison has the makings of an elite strikeout pitcher. While he has just a 4.66 ERA in Triple-A this year (20 starts, 65-2/3 innings), he has recorded 105 strikeouts with an incredible 35.6% strikeout rate. He primarily uses three pitches – a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a low 80s slider and a mid-80s changeup – and he has high swing-and-miss rates with all three pitches.
22-year-old SP Kyle Harrison has been called up by the Giants. The former Round 3 draft pick has a wild profile in AAA this year.
4.66 ERA, 5.11 xFIP
35.6% K%, 16.3% BB%
44.8% FB%, 35.8% GB%
This will be fascinating. 🍿pic.twitter.com/AL0dkmrwhz
— Ahaan Rungta (@AhaanRungta) August 20, 2023
Part of the reason for Harrison getting the call when he did was the depleted nature of the Giants’ rotation. He has also had two impressive outings in his most recent starts, logging 11 Ks and zero walks over 7-1/3 innings. But the biggest factor timing-wise was avoiding sending the rookie out to face the league’s most dangerous lineup (Atlanta) in his MLB debut.
The Phillies will be a much better matchup for the left-hander, even if he does have to make his debut in front of a raucous Philadelphia crowd. The Phillies have been one of the best offenses in the league in August, but still, they are not the Braves.
Philadelphia is 3rd in runs, 3rd in wOBA and 4th in wrC+ this month. While their season splits are roughly even, during August they have been slightly better against righties (.271 average, .851 OPS, .361 wOBA) than against lefties (.262 average, .802 OPS, .345 wOBA). Giants manager Gabe Kapler reluctantly admitted that Harrison being a lefty is part of the reason they chose to schedule his MLB debut against Philadelphia.
Kapler confirmed Kyle Harrison will make his MLB debut Tuesday and explained why the timing makes sense logistically pic.twitter.com/zhHUSJZfLF
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 20, 2023
The Giants’ offense has been dreadful since the All-Star break, so they likely will need Harrison to give them a good outing and keep the scoring low to have their best chance at winning this game. San Francisco is 29th in runs and dead last in most other statistical categories (average, OBP, SLG, wOBA, wRC+) during the second half of the season.
They will face the Phillies’ Taijuan Walker, who has been a reliable arm for Philadelphia this season and is currently tied for 2nd in the league with 13 wins. It’s worth noting Walker got chased in the first inning by these Giants on May 17 after giving up 4 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks while recording just 2 outs.
The Giants swept the Phillies in that series in San Francisco, but a lot has changed since then, and that doesn’t necessarily portend what will happen this time in Philadelphia.
This pick all comes down to expectations for Kyle Harrison, and the Giants’ franchise has a long track record of successfully grooming young pitchers. We expect Harrison to look the part in his debut and lead the Giants to a much-needed win. From there it follows that we expect a low-scoring game in which Harrison pitches well, so we are pairing the Giants’ moneyline at +124 with the under on 9 runs at -102 odds.
Giants vs. Phillies Prediction: Giants’ moneyline (+124), under 9 runs (-102)
Note: all metrics above taken before Monday’s games
Giants vs. Phillies Odds
The Phillies are the betting favorites at -148 on the moneyline, while the Giants’ moneyline odds are +124.
The Phillies are laying -1.5 runs on the spread at +130, while the Giants are getting +1.5 runs at -155 odds.
The over/under in this game is set at 9 runs with -118 odds on the over and -102 on the under.
Giants vs. Phillies Key Matchups
Here are the key matchups that could decide Giants vs. Phillies.
Kyle Harrison vs. pitch count
The biggest unknown in this game is what Harrison will look like in his debut against one of the best lineups in baseball right now. It would not be surprising to see the Phillies struggle against a talented pitcher whom they have never seen pitch. A Giants moneyline pick in our Giants vs. Phillies prediction indicates that is the outcome we expect, but it also would not be surprising if the highly touted Harrison struggles in his debut against such a talented lineup.
One of the best indicators of Harrison’s success will be how deep into the game he goes. He only pitched into the 5th inning twice so far this season in Triple-A. The Giants also will likely have him on a pitch count as he ramps up to being a big league starter.
If Harrison can give the Giants more than 4 innings, that will likely coincide with him having a solid debut start and giving his club a good chance to win the game. Anything less than that would likely mean either he struggled with his command again or he simply got knocked around by the Phillies’ deep and dangerous lineup.
Another reason that Harrison’s performance – especially how deep he can go – will have a big impact on this game is that the Giants’ bullpen is stretched thin right now. They have pitched the most innings in the league this season and have remained one of the most taxed bullpens this month.
Part of that is a result of their necessary strategy to deploy a heavy use of openers and long relievers, which inflates their overall innings totals and doesn’t necessarily reflect the status of their late-inning arms. Still, if Harrison doesn’t go deep, the ripple effect will be felt by the entire bullpen.
The Phillies are not far behind in those categories with a 3.70 ERA (9th), .307 wOBA (16th) and 3.95 FIP (9th). They have also been slightly better during August with a 3.29 ERA (9th) and .294 wOBA (10th), while the Giants have a 3.72 ERA (13th) and .305 wOBA (14th) this month.
With such evenly matched relief staffs, the team that jumps out to an early lead will have an advantage. If the game is close and late, both bullpens have the arms to give their team a chance to win.
Giants vs. Phillies Starting Lineups (Projected)
Giants Starting Lineup
1B LaMonte Wade (L)
CF Wade Meckler (L)
DH Wilmer Flores (R)
LF Joc Pederson (L)
3B J.D. Davis (R)
RF Michael Conforto (L)
C Patrick Bailey (S)
SS Casey Schmitt (R)
2B Thairo Estrada (R)
Phillies Starting Lineup
DH Kyle Schwarber (L)
3B Alec Bohm (R)
1B Bryce Harper (L)
RF Nick Castellanos(R)
2B Bryson Stott (L)
SS Trea Turner (R)
LF Brandon Marsh (L)
C J.T. Realmuto (R)
CF Johan Rojas (R)