Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill delivers against the Cincinnati Reds...

Mets starting pitcher Tylor Megill delivers against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning of an MLB game at Citi Field on Saturday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

When the Mets committed to being sellers at this year’s trade deadline, they committed, too, to a September of experimentation and evaluation.

They called up their kids and tried them at different positions, and they took the leashes off Tylor Megill and David Peterson — all but pleading with them to prove they have what it takes to be part of the rotation next year.

And in the five starts before his outing against the Reds on Saturday night, Megill responded respectably. He appears to have mostly reclaimed the fastball that went on a little sabbatical this year, and pitched the best he has all season in a no-decision in Minnesota last week. He had a 3.12 ERA in those five starts and a 5.03 ERA overall.

But while there certainly is value to finishing up a season strong, it’s also important to not get enamored of September results. And the truth is, Megill hasn’t shown enough to pencil him into next year’s rotation or influence the Mets’ free-agency decisions this offseason.

“This time of year, or spring training, you’ve got to be careful,” Buck Showalter said. “These teams we’re playing, everything is on the line for them. Sometimes that works to our favor a little bit. Our guys are a little looser and a little more letting it fly and they’re kind of wound pretty tight.

“What you look for is, is it legit? Does it play any time of the year? Command plays, the shape and consistency of a breaking ball — the ability to land something soft and make people honor other pitches. That plays any time of the year regardless of the atmosphere.”

Megill, whose velocity and command suffered after changing his mechanics to prevent reinjuring his right shoulder, saw some improvement when he went back to his old delivery. He was able to touch 99 mph last month and was consistently throwing 97 in his clean first inning against the Reds on Saturday — a start in which he allowed three runs (two earned), nine hits and two walks in 5   2⁄3 innings. He struck out only two.

Megill proved less successful in the second, when the Reds made solid contact on two of his fastballs, both of them higher in the zone, where he’s been less effective than usual this season.

Asked about the audition aspect on Saturday, Megill said it was “more so trying to go out and pitching like I pitch . . . Just going out and pitching like I used to, the way I do, attacking the strike zone . . . Audition-wise, just keep being me and keep going out and attacking hitters.”

But the issue remains that Megill has lost a little of the vertical drop in his fastball, though Showalter said the pitch is much improved of late. He also hasn’t been able to take the one big step toward sustained results and, at age 28, still has to prove that it’s in his wheelhouse: Entering Saturday, he owned a 4.86 ERA through three seasons with the Mets.

That’s not to say he doesn’t have the stuff for it, and recent returns are encouraging. But while September is for evaluation, not all evaluations are created equal, especially when you’re basically just playing out the season and waiting for the calendar to turn to October.

“The mental and emotional side of it is such a big part of the sport you play every day,” Showalter said. “I want these guys to finish strong and feel good about themselves in the offseason, when they come to camp next year. That’s why I’m so respectful of teams, coaches, players that do things year in and year out. It’s hard to be consistent.”

Megill and others like him, “they’ll seek their level,” Showalter said.

Most likely. But though it’s been a good month, there’s still a lot more to see if the Mets are going to find out exactly what that level is.


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months