Notes: Megill tests cutter; Shreve eyes opportunity

March 20th, 2022

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- When Tylor Megill was a prospect, scouts frequently opined that his changeup would make the difference between his long-term ability to stick as a starter or become a reliever. Without it, Megill would struggle to keep left-handed hitters off-balance.

While Megill’s changeup did improve during his rookie season, lefties still hit him at a .315/.383/.612 clip. So Megill worked this offseason to develop another pitch: a cut fastball, which he believes can keep left-handed hitters more off-kilter than the changeup alone ever could.

“I definitely wanted to add another weapon,” Megill said after pitching three scoreless innings Sunday in the Mets’ 6-4 loss to the Cardinals. “I wanted something hard and something that goes into lefties, so they can respect the four-seam. If I have something hard and in, it’s just an advantage for me to get on their hands and allow them to second-guess themselves.”

Megill said he worked on his grip before the lockout with Double-A pitching coach Jerome Williams, then later with former teammate Tommy Wilson. The pitch still isn’t quite where he wants it -- he estimated that he threw three cutters on Sunday and wasn’t pleased with the results -- but it could become critical during the season.

Megill will take any advantage given the Mets’ crowded rotation, which may include enough prominent names to push him and David Peterson back to Triple-A Syracuse to start the season. Both pitchers understand the reality of that situation, even as they work to avoid it.

“Obviously, it lingers in the back of my head,” Megill said. “But I can’t let that get to me. At the end of the day, there’s going to be a lot of pitching and there’s going to be a lot of need for arms. So whenever my name’s called, whatever happens, I’m going to be ready.”

Meet the new lefty, same as the old lefty
As he searched for a job in Major League Baseball’s post-lockout landscape, Chasen Shreve valued one thing above all else: opportunity. The Mets, who have zero left-handed relievers on their 40-man roster, were able to offer Shreve a real chance to make an Opening Day roster -- and on a team with World Series aspirations, no less. So Shreve signed a Minor League deal to rejoin the Mets, for whom he last played in 2020.

Unless the Mets trade for a lefty or sign an available free agent such as Tony Watson, the club will almost certainly choose one from among a group of non-roster invitees including Shreve, Alex Claudio and Rob Zastryzny.

“They needed lefties,” Shreve said. “That was the biggest reason for coming here, and everything else just fell into place. … They were the fit that I thought I could slide right into, and it ended up happening.”

Part of that is because Shreve has had a longstanding relationship with Mets general manager Billy Eppler since both were with the Yankees last decade. Part of it was because the Mets were pleased with Shreve’s output in 2020 despite their business decision to non-tender him after that year. Shreve wound up hooking on with the Pirates and enjoyed another strong season, holding lefties to a .200/.289/.344 slash line over 57 games.

“My year last year was really good,” Shreve said. “I plan to have an even better one this year.”

Mr. Clean
As Jacob deGrom began to walk out of the clubhouse for a workout this weekend, he noticed that a few lumps of dried dirt had fallen off his spikes and sullied the carpet. deGrom bent down to pick them up but realized that wasn’t going to do the job. So he walked to a back room, emerged moments later with a vacuum, and spent the next few minutes cleaning up the carpet.

“Two Cy Youngs and he vacuums,” quipped a nearby clubhouse worker.

A new shortstop record
The multi-year deals that Corey Seager (10 years, $325 million), Trevor Story (six years, $140 million) and Carlos Correa (three years, $105.3 million) signed this offseason did not top the 10-year, $341 million commitment that the Mets gave Francisco Lindor on the eve of Opening Day last season. Although Correa’s contract set a new record for average annual value for a middle infielder, he could not top Lindor’s overall guarantee.

“I’m not sure what kind of deal he was looking for,” Lindor said. “If this is the deal he was looking for, I’m super happy for him. I’m proud of him, proud of what he's going to be able to do for his family for the rest of his life, and I hope he goes out there and balls out.”

Port St. Lucie visitors
Mets legends Mike Piazza and Mookie Wilson are scheduled to arrive in camp on Monday to serve as guest instructors. Al Leiter and David Wright will follow, with the latter due in town during the final few days in March.