Megill prepping for relief role upon return

August 6th, 2022

NEW YORK -- A packed stadium in October, a stressful jam on the mound, triple-digit fastballs zipping past hitters? Yeah, Tylor Megill has envisioned it, too. 

“Those are the kinds of situations you want to be thrown in, obviously high-intensity,” Megill said. “You definitely shouldn’t shy away from it.” 

When Megill returns from the injured list in late August or early September, it will be as a reliever. The Mets hope he can join Edwin Díaz, Adam Ottavino and Seth Lugo in their late-game mix, potentially as what pitching coach Jeremy Hefner called a “one-inning, come in and blow doors and fist pump, ‘Big Drip’-style role.” 

“It’s exciting,” Megill said. “You should take all of that energy and be confident, and just go out there and do what you do.”

First, Megill must become healthy. Sidelined since mid-June due to a right shoulder strain, Megill has been long tossing off flat ground with the intention of throwing his first bullpen session on Aug. 13. From there, Megill will build up his endurance in bullpens, live batting practice sessions and Minor League rehab appearances, before returning around the end of the month.

As a starting pitcher, Megill was a key member of the early-season rotation, subbing for Max Scherzer on Opening Day and going 4-0 with a 1.93 ERA in April. After that, Megill posted an 11.48 ERA in four starts sandwiched around a monthlong stay on the IL due to right biceps tendinitis. Following his most recent appearance on June 16, Megill underwent an MRI that revealed his shoulder strain.

Given Megill’s relative youth and lack of history with significant innings totals, a switch to the bullpen was always a possibility for the right-hander, who served as a reliever in college and has often been profiled that way by scouts -- mostly due to his lack of a reliable third pitch as a prospect. Although Megill has since developed a dependable changeup, he still intrigues evaluators as a reliever given his velocity gains over the past two years. Early this year, Megill hit a career-best 99 mph on the radar gun. What might that look like in shorter spurts?

“I’m going to have to control it,” Megill said. “It seems like when I do start, all my stuff is pretty good for a few innings, and then my velo will die down a little bit, and that’s when I get hit around. As long as I can maintain my sharpness on my stuff for however long I’m going, I think I’ll be pretty solid.”

Long-term, Megill would like to remain a starter; to that end, Mets officials have already told him that they envision him in their rotation in 2023 and beyond. But with Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan Walker and David Peterson all healthy, the Mets know Megill wouldn’t be a likely option to start playoff games come October.

What’s more, the Mets did relatively little to bolster their relief corps at the Trade Deadline, at least in part because they envisioned Megill contributing in that way.

“They wanted to throw me into the bullpen,” Megill said. “So be it. I’ll finish it out and do whatever I can do to help the team win.”