The New York Mets have relied on Tylor Megill as an important option to step in when a significant rotation need arises.
Megill has remained ready, even when he is asked to take the ball in a spotlight moment.
Last season, injuries pushed Megill into an Opening Day start for the Mets. This year, he landed in another similar situation as he started the home opener at Citi Field.
Megill won both starts, not letting the magnitude of those moments overwhelm him.
This year, he was well-prepared for the first home game in Flushing.
“It’s exciting. It was the first one on the home field,” Megill told The Game Day.
“The atmosphere is like no other game.” From a pure pitching perspective, though, Megill said the outing was just like any other game to him.
So far in his career, Megill has 32 starts, yet he now feels like he fits well in the Mets’ rotation. He has won three of his first four decisions this season, continuing to plug starting pitching leaks that have sprung up because of injuries.
Being part of a pitching staff that has included the likes of Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Justin Verlander early in his career has helped Megill to settle into the high-pressure atmosphere as a major leaguer in New York.
“I’ve been here for some time now, and I’m definitely a lot more comfortable,” he said.
“In many ways, I feel like I belong, and I try not to do too much. I just go out there and pitch my game. On top of that, having all these guys, very experienced pitchers teaching me their ways and teaching me how to pitch, it’s allowing me to pitch with a lot of confidence.”
The Mets have turned to Megill early in each of the last two seasons to deal with missing pieces in the rotation. In 2022, he responded with a 4-0 record and a 1.93 ERA in April. This season, he won his first three starts while fashioning a 2.25 ERA.
Adversity struck last season, though, when he landed on the injured list in May due to biceps inflammation. He has also hit some bumps this season, allowing seven runs in nine innings over his last two starts.
Yet Megill does have the confidence and some experience to bounce back from any rougher spells. Late in Spring Training this year, he allowed six runs in 8.2 innings pitched and was ticketed for Triple-A to begin the season. But just a few days after being optioned to Syracuse, Megill was summoned to join the big club again for an April 1 start at Miami.
Spring Training struggles were quickly erased, as Megill allowed only four runs in his first three starts of 2023 with the Mets, all victories. The 27-year-old starter said he made some refinements that allowed him to ease back into action at the MLB level with more success.
“There was a little adversity in Spring Training. Obviously, it wasn’t the way I wanted it to go, “Megill said.
“I made a few slight adjustments toward the end of Spring Training and the beginning of the season at Syracuse. Now it feels like I’m back to where I was last year, mechanics-wise and stuff-wise. Everything’s on the right page right now.”
As he looks to recapture the form of his first three starts of this season, Megill can lean on a support system that includes a catcher he is comfortable with, a highly respected pitching coach, and continued insights from proven superstar teammates such as Scherzer and Verlander.
Megill said that catcher Tomas Nido has been a very important planning partner as he readies for every turn.
“We go over batters every start, we get on the computers, and we pitch to my strengths as we talk a good game plan out.,” he said.
“Obviously, having a guy like Nido with a lot of experience, telling me what he likes and what he wants to do, and bouncing ideas off each other, you couldn’t go wrong as a pitcher going into a game, feeling confident.”
Jeremy Hefner is another essential figure in Megill’s continued development and helps him to remain steady in a New York environment that’s rattled even more seasoned players in years past.
“He’s been helping me a lot day to day,” Megill said.
“We talk all the time, and he’s the right-hand man when something is going on. If something is going bad, the first is to go to him and chat and start breaking it down.”
Absorbing pointers from future Hall of Famers rounds out a great situation for Megill as he continues to attempt to establish himself with the Mets.
“As a young pitcher, anyone like me and David Peterson, and anyone who is coming up, and even for our staff as a whole, just having so much knowledge around us, it’s very, very good,” he said.
One significant recent development for Megill during his ongoing learning process has been establishing more confidence in using his curveball.
According to Baseball Savant, he has increased his curveball usage to 7.5 percent, up from 2.5 percent last season.
“Getting more feel for my curveball, that’s kind of like where the emphasis was in the offseason,” Megill said.
“I was focused on staying with the curveball that I started picking up last year, and going into the offseason; I started throwing it a lot more. Just being able to throw that whenever I want now, I think it’s given me a pretty good advantage against lefties instead of just fastball, slider, and changeups. Now I’ve got a fourth pitch they have to worry about. “
While the Mets have needed Megill to step to the forefront in the first few weeks of each of the last two seasons, he has also been growing into his role as a guy who must be ready to take the hill at any time.
Megill is growing on the job and has accepted the continued challenges.
“I’m very blessed to be here in this organization and with the guys that we have. The amount of stuff that I’ve been learning from Spring Training until now makes it exciting to see where it goes from here,” he said.
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