Mets' Tylor Megill aiming to put wild week, wild pitching behind him
MIAMI — After Tylor Megill learned he had not made the Mets, was formally demoted to Triple-A Syracuse and flew from spring training in Florida to belatedly join the minor-league club in the course of about three days, he wound up on the field Thursday playing catch as a routine tuneup for his start in Friday’s Triple-A season opener.
Then Syracuse manager Dick Scott and pitching coach Kyle Driscoll approached Megill with a message: The major-league Mets were dealing with a new injury. So never mind about his minors assignment.
Yes, really. His first start would not be Friday night against the Triple-A Worcester Red Sox in Massachusetts, but Saturday in Miami.
Megill hopped on a plane back to Florida on Thursday night to rejoin the Mets, who activated him Friday. Upon seeing Megill at the ballpark, manager Buck Showalter said to him: “I told you we’d see you again.”
Megill took the roster spot — and rotation spot — of Justin Verlander, who officially went on the 15-day injured list with a low-grade strain of the teres major, a muscle near his armpit. Verlander won’t be eligible to return until April 12, but it’s not clear he’ll get back on the mound that soon.
“A lot of emotions and whatnot,” said Megill, who also is in line to start the Mets’ home opener Thursday. “But things don’t change. You come up here and compete, do the best to your capabilities.”
Megill’s capabilities are a source of intrigue. He walked 13 and struck out 12 in 17 innings in five Grapefruit League appearances.
After a wild week, his test now is to put that wild pitching behind him.
“My last bullpen when I was down in Florida kind of hashed those kind of things out, getting a little . . . back to how I was previously and last season,” he said. “It seemed to help me out and then really get down through the ball.”
Showalter added: “He got out of sync a little bit command-wise, which is not him.”
One theory on why: Megill is notably thinner. He said at the start of camp that he had dropped about 15 pounds, which might have thrown his delivery out of whack.
“There’s probably some real validity to that,” said Showalter, who also explained that the Mets challenged their pitchers to be in great shape this year, knowing that the pitch clock would be in place. “Mechanics, the way your body moves down the hill, the tempo which you pitch at. All of a sudden, you’re moving some things a little quicker than you were able to.”
Another piece of Megill’s game worth monitoring is his velocity. Last year he threw harder than ever, pushing the upper 90s (and trying for 100), averaging 95.7 mph on his fastball overall. In his final spring training outing, he was down to 94.4 mph.
Maybe it’s the weight loss. Or potentially the remnants of his shoulder injury last season. Megill pointed to a lack of adrenaline in that environment, so let’s see, he said, what happens in real games.
Where does he expect to be regularly velocity-wise?
“I guess we’ll find out,” he said. “The emotions, the adrenaline, go out there and compete and don’t really think about my effort level. Just go at ’em with all the intensity I can. Whatever happens happens.”
As he said he planned to do while sidelined, Verlander played catch Friday to keep his arm in shape despite the injury, according to Showalter. He added that Verlander likely will go to New York when the team heads to Milwaukee on Sunday night . . . The only lineup personnel change from the first game to the second game for the Mets: Tommy Pham inserted in leftfield, with Mark Canha moving to DH and Daniel Vogelbach on the bench. Pham will be a regular when the Mets face lefthanded starters. As was the case with Canha, Showalter said he plans to give Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Brandon Nimmo a day off from defense soon . . . The Marlins debuted new teal uniforms — inspired by the franchise’s originals — as part of their Flashback Fridays promotion, celebrating 30 years of the organization’s existence.