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Tylor Megill, godsend for the Mets
Megill's improved slider is leading him to prominence early in 2022
Tylor Megill has been a godsend serving as Jacob deGrom’s rotation replacement so far this season.
Megill recorded another splendid outing on Sunday against the Diamondbacks, allowing just two runs over 6 2/3 innings with only five hits and two walks allowed while striking out seven.
It was the third straight start Megill has pitched into the sixth inning or more and the second time in his career he has pitched into the seventh inning.
“I felt like everything was working,” Megill explained after Sunday’s game. “As I looked at the pitch count, I was throwing a lot of strikes and getting ahead of a lot of batters.”
Megill has indeed been a strike throwing machine over his first three starts in 2022 (68 percent of his pitches have been strikes) - he’s allowed just three walks in 23 innings so far this season.
The funny thing is, his strikeout rate is actually down from a year ago, which is interesting because his average fastball velocity has increased by 1.6 mph and his swing and miss percentage on that pitch is up over six percent from a year ago. In fact, despite the increased velocity, the expected batting average on Megill’s fastball is a bit higher than it was a year ago (.243 this season vs. .231 last season) although, the opposition is actually hitting .222 against his fastball versus .261 last season.
It therefore hasn’t been the higher octane fastball all by itself.
Megill’s slider has quite possibly been the key improvement for him so far this season, as opponents are hitting just .077 against him ( 1-for-13) on that pitch with a 47.6 percent swing-and-miss rate, nearly a 16 percent improvement in missing bats with that pitch from a year ago.
The velocity on his slider is generally the same as it was in 2021 but it has improved downward movement, making it a heavier compliment to his fastball. The improved slider and the improved command of that slider has been a game-changing tool for him to offset his suddenly dominant fastball, allowing him to keep balls on the ground and in the park, get ahead, stay economical and limit baserunners in the early going.
“I know a lot of people underestimated [Megill],” JD Davis explained after Sunday’s game. “But for him to come out, I’ve said since Opening Day he started turning some heads. That was a real turning point in him, just making that extra step and getting better, mentally. We’re all impressed.”
The statistics are impressive for sure. But perhaps what makes Megill standout the most are his poise, concentration and demeanor. He showed a lot in his ability to rebound on Sunday after a mediocre start against the Giants last week (even after finishing strong). No matter the result or what happens or doesn’t happen behind him, Megill continues apparently unfazed and has shown a unique ability to move forward through adversity.
Of course, it’s still early, just 23 innings and Megill’s greatest test will come when the league begins adjusting to his improved arsenal. But those are intangibles - combined with the talent he clearly possesses - that can and just very well might make him a mainstay in this rotation if or when it’s finally completely healthy (That’s for Billy Eppler, Buck Showalter and Jeremy Hefner to figure out when or if the time comes).
And for sure, he is unquestionably saving and propelling the Mets while they wait for that to happen.