Megill's 1st MLB W a gem: 'He's here to stay'

Alonso crushes two dingers, including 450-foot blast

July 24th, 2021

NEW YORK -- Rapidly, the Mets’ rotation is becoming whole again. Trade acquisition Rich Hill should be at Citi Field by Saturday. Carlos Carrasco could return from the injured list within days, with Jacob deGrom perhaps also on the short-term horizon. The Mets have nearly survived a weeks-long stretch in which they often didn’t know who would be starting the next day’s game.

They could not have done it without Tylor Megill.

Unheralded before the season, Megill has been the glue that’s allowed the Mets not only to survive, but to thrive, maintaining their grip on first place despite all their recent nicks and cuts. In delivering six shutout innings in a 3-0 win over the Blue Jays on Friday, Megill shaved his ERA to 2.10 -- the fourth-lowest in Mets history by a pitcher in his first six career starts.

“This guy’s here, and he’s here to stay,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “He’s put us in position to win a lot of games already.”

Against the Blue Jays, who entered the night ranked third in the Majors in runs per game, Megill submitted his finest start to date. After allowing a hit and a walk in his first two innings, the rookie retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced, with five total strikeouts. Rojas removed Megill at that point despite a pitch count of 78, and a trio of Mets relievers did the rest.

“We have been facing pretty good pitching, and the guy today was really good,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said of Megill. “I don’t care what kind of offense you’ve got -- pitching’s the name of the game, we always talk about that -- and their guy was really tough today, for sure.”

The Mets scored their only runs off former teammate Steven Matz in the first inning, when Brandon Nimmo drew a leadoff walk and Pete Alonso -- who later blasted a 450-foot shot to the second deck in left-center in the eighth -- followed with the first of his two homers. Making his return to Citi Field to face his old team, Matz received several ovations throughout the night -- but so did Megill, who basked in a loud one following his first career hit in the fifth.

“For a moment, I didn’t realize what was going on just because I was blacked out from getting a hit,” Megill said. “But once I heard it, it was pretty cool, and something I’ll remember forever.”

While Megill’s first career hit and first career win were both nice accolades for the rookie, the Mets are mostly interested in his staying power. Even with Hill in Flushing, the Mets have rotation issues, which they’ll try to assuage with another Deadline deal. And yet further acquisitions won’t necessarily bump Megill out of the starting five. He’s been that good for the Mets, racking up 33 strikeouts against 10 walks in 30 innings.

“Tylor’s been absolutely incredible,” Alonso said. “He’s got moxie and poise, and he executes out there, done such an incredible job, and he’s really come through for us in a time of need.”

“It just shows that my stuff plays at this level,” added Megill, who entered this season with five career innings above Class A ball.

Of course, the Mets’ best-case scenario involves deGrom and Carrasco both returning soon to team with Taijuan Walker and Marcus Stroman at the front of the rotation. That will leave Megill to battle Hill and any other trade acquisitions for future starts, along with perhaps David Peterson. But Megill does not necessarily have to start every fifth game the rest of the season to make his mark. If nothing else, he can continue to serve as a sixth starter, a spot starter, or perhaps even a high-octane reliever down the stretch.

On top of that, Megill gives the Mets significant rotation insurance heading into the winter, with Noah Syndergaard and Stroman eligible to become free agents.

It’s not something most Mets officials envisioned heading into Spring Training, with little of note popping out on Megill’s prospect reports. Thanks to some increased velocity and a big opportunity, he’s since changed the organization’s view of him to such an extent that the Mets can confidently place him in their future plans.

“Leaving camp, there’s no chance I thought Tylor Megill would be doing at this point what he’s doing for us,” Rojas said. “It’s been very surprising. I’ve always been a fan personally, but to see what he’s doing right now, I keep saying it: It’s more than we expected. This kid has been a blessing for us.”