Notes and quotes from media availability day:
Harrison will be focused for first at bat
There will be a lot noise and excitement in PNC Park tomorrow night. When Josh Harrison steps to the plate in the bottom of the first, the anticipation will certainly reach a crescendo, as the fans will be primed to explode at the first sign of a rally.
With all the great moments he has had this season, Harrison says that he's thought about digging in for his first at bat tomorrow, and that he is ready for what will be one of his most memorable plate appearances.
"I've thought about it and I think by that time I'll be good," Harrison said. "I think the time I'm really going to feel it is when we're being announced. I just remember last year how loud they were as the team was being announced. That's my time when I'll probably reflect and be like, ‘Wow man, this is unreal.' But by the time I'm leading off the bottom of the first, I'll already be in game mode. I'll be focused on what's at hand. I know it's going to be loud and I know there is going to be a lot of adrenaline, but I believe by then I'm going to be good."
Holdzkom and Strickland ready
John Holdzkom and Hunter Strickland were both mentioned by Paul Swydan in a recent Fangraphs article as two relievers poised to be the next Francisco Rodriguez. The two pitchers have taken very different routes to the majors, but both have dominated since arriving. They've pitched so well, indeed, that it is possible that one or both could pitch in important situation tomorrow.
Strickland has not allowed a run or a walk while striking out nine batters in seven innings pitched. Holdzkom has 14 strikeouts and 2.00 ERA in nine innings pitched. Both began pitching in relatively low-leverage situations when they first came up, and have been moved into more pressure-filled roles as their success has continued.
Pirates fans know Holdzkom's path to the big leagues by now. Strickland, on the other hand, is less well known.
The hard-throwing right-hander was in the Pirates organization between 2009 and 2012, having been acquired in the Adam LaRoche trade. In April of 2013, the Pirates placed Strickland on waivers, and the Giants grabbed him. In May of that year, he underwent Tommy John surgery and was designated for assignment in late July. The Giants re-signed him a week later to a minor league contract. He started pitching again in spring training and put together an impressive campaign in Double-A, striking out 48 batters in 35.2 innings and posting a 2.02 ERA. He was called-up by the Giants in September.
Today, Bruce Bochy said that Strickland may see some important innings for the Giants this postseason.
"You have to like what he's done [since he's come up]," Bochy said with a chuckle. "He's got great stuff. He's got great command and he's got a great makeup. He is a guy that is going to help us in the bullpen in the sixth, seventh, eighth inning, that area."
"Since he's come up he's been comfortable from day one," Bochy continued. "This is one tough kid. He has no fear. He's gotten healthy since his Tommy John and he has his stuff back to where it was. He's a big part of this bullpen right now."
Strickland said his success since joining the Giants organization has to do with just discovering the type of pitcher he can be.
"It's just finding out what type of player your are, and as a person," Strickland said. "And everything just clicked. Growing up I had some adversity, you know, with two surgeries. Then when I came back after elbow surgery, the Giants knew what they were doing, the rehab process and everything."
When I asked him how he felt about possibly pitching against his former organization in an elimination game, Strickland said he'd be excited if the opportunity presented itself.
"It's pretty cool to be playing against some of the guys that I came up with," Strickland said, mentioning Gerrit Cole and Tony Sanchez by name. "It'll be good to see those guys and catch up with them."
Strickland said he didn't know when he might be used tomorrow, but he'll be ready from the first pitch.
"It's the postseason. You never now," he said. "I'm going to be ready the entire game. I hope I do get the opportunity and get the call."
Holdzkom is ready for yet another experience that he never could have anticipated a few months ago.
"I watched the game last year," Holdzkom said. "I'm sure being here will be quite the experience."
Asked if he ever thought he would be in a situation like this, he shook his head a paused.
"I mean, no. No, you can't. I'm not trying to be too overwhelmed by it either. Just trying to take it in stride."
"The crowd's going to be crazy, but I'm going to try to have tunnel vision on the catcher's mitt, if I do get in," Holdzkom continued. "The rules of baseball and everything will be the same, it's just going to be an intense atmosphere, you know."
Things will be different in the bullpen
The pitchers in the bullpen are always engaged in the game, but Tony Watson said there will be a more intense interest in proceedings tomorrow.
"It's going to be fun," Watson said of bullpen atmosphere. "I just remember it being an electric atmosphere [last year]. Everybody was kind of on the edge of their seat waiting for the phone to ring and watching the pitch count and [waiting to see] who would be the first guy up. Kind of wanting to get in there. Butterflies are going. That's the kind of stuff that you want. If you don't have butterflies, something is wrong with you."
Watson said the key for him tomorrow will be to rely on the routine that has served him so well this year.
"I'm going to try to treat it like a regular game," Watson said. "It's kind of nice to already have had that experience. Last year, we didn't know what to expect and a lot of guys were kind of giddy. But we came out on top still."