Megill bit by long ball: 'He can learn from this'

September 25th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- Very few pitchers make it to the big leagues and find immediate, lasting success. Even the best of the best go through growing pains at some point early in their careers before things start to take off. Right now, Tylor Megill is right smack in the middle of those growing pains.

Friday night provided another painful reminder of that fact as the rookie right-hander allowed three home runs among five hits and four walks over four innings in a 5-1 loss to the playoff-bound Brewers at American Family Field.

Megill, 26, made quite a splash after earning his first big league call-up in late June. He went 1-0 with a 2.04 ERA through his first seven starts but since then, is 2-5 with a 6.55 ERA and has allowed at least four earned runs in three of his last four outings.

Megill’s recent struggles have come as no surprise to Rojas.

“The league adjusting to him,” Rojas said. “He was throwing the ball pretty good with a lot of swing and misses in the zone but teams advance [scout] you, they see your tendencies and make adjustments. These are just some of the things that happen when you're a first-year pitcher.”

The biggest problem for Megill, especially lately, has been an inability to keep the ball in the park. He’s allowed 15 homers over his last 10 starts with 12 of those coming during his last six outings.

“Just in the zone, in the middle of the zone mistakes and they make me pay for it,” Megill said. “I'm definitely not getting away with much when I'm in the zone and long balls are what are getting me.”

That was the case Friday when Kolten Wong worked Megill full before sending a 95 mph fastball to right-center for his seventh leadoff home run of the season. Megill was bit again by long ball in the third when Willy Adames and Christian Yelich followed Wong’s walk with back-to-back home runs.

"Three batters did the damage against him today,” Rojas said. “Good hitting clubs with good hitting players are going to hunt for something they can get and they rarely miss it. That's been the case here.”

Again, that’s part of the development process. Like most young pitchers, Megill relies primarily on two pitches -- his fastball and changeup -- which opposing hitters have recognized, both from facing him in previous at-bats, as well as video and scouting reports.

A third pitch, which takes time to develop -- especially with just a handful of Minor League appearances under a player’s belt -- can make all the difference.

“He can learn from things like this,” Rojas said. “His fastball and changeup are at the top right now but that third pitch is going to be really important. We still firmly believe this kid has good stuff and a good demeanor.”

With four innings of work, Megill has now thrown 84 2/3 for the Mets this season, and 125 total when including his eight Minor League starts. His previous high came two years ago, when he threw 71 2/3 in his first full professional season.

Despite the jump in workload (especially after the pandemic wiped out the entire 2020 Minor League season), Megill is still likely to make his final scheduled start, next Thursday against the Marlins. He hopes to use that outing to finish the season on a high note.

“A solid, quality start,” Megill said when asked his goal for that last appearance. “I've been getting kicked in the last few starts, not going long in my outings and giving up a lot of runs. Go out there, go the distance and have a strong start.”