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Tylor Megill’s debut season was a rookie rollercoaster

The epic highs and lows of major league baseball, as experienced by rookie starter Tylor Megill.

New York Mets v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Prior to June 23rd, Tylor Megill was a major league unknown. He started the year as a prospect on the Mets’ Double-A and Triple-A teams, on various Mets’ top 30 prospect lists but always hovering around the mid-20s. He was the kind of guy who’d get a cup of coffee in the big leagues towards the end of the year, but certainly not sooner, as the Mets had fantastic pitching depth.

And then they didn’t.

By June 23rd, the Mets had Jacob deGrom oscillating between injured and not injured on a weekly basis, Taijuan Walker having hurt his back already, Jordan Yamamoto with a mystery shoulder injury, and Joey Lucchesi needing Tommy John surgery. Noah Syndergaard was still recovering from his own Tommy John surgery, and Carlos Carrasco had torn his hamstring in spring training and was still dealing with it three months later. Unknowingly, the Mets were also a week away from David Peterson going down, first with an oblique strain, then with a foot fracture sustained while walking which kept him out for the rest of the year. They were about a month away from Jacob deGrom being shut down for the season, losing their ace when they needed him most.

All this added up to Tylor Megill going from an iffy prospect to a major league rotation mainstay very quickly. And at first, Megill showed tremendous ability, carrying the load as a near-instant third starter with grace. He had a 3.50 RA, 4.11 FIP, 13.0 K/9, and a 1.278 WHIP in the first half. The month of July he was downright elite, with a 1.04 ERA, winning all five of the games he started that month and giving up just two home runs the entire month. Going into August, Tylor Megill was one of the few dependable players on the Mets as the team on the whole began a slide that would end their season on a dour note.

However, as is wont to happen when one is a member of the New York Mets, nothing gold can stay and Megill saw some serious regression starting in August through the rest of the year. August was his worst month of the year, with a 6.44 ERA, giving up eight home runs, double what he gave up the entire first half. His 5.42 FIP was slightly better than his ERA, but still bad. He was still averaging a good K/9 with 9.5, but it seemed as those when he wasn’t striking guys out he was getting smacked around. His September and October was slightly better, and overall his second half was mediocre, with a 4.77 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and a 1.284 WHIP.

Now, there’s a pretty significant fact that can be pointed to as a part of Megill’s downturn. Megill, over his entire professional career, had never thrown as many innings as he did across three levels this year. 2019 was Megill’s only full year in the minors, given that he was drafted in 2018 and 2020 was essentially a lost year in which he only saw time at the Mets’ alternate site. In 2019 Megill pitched a total of 71.2 innings across three levels of the minor leagues. This season, across two levels of minor league baseball and then his promotion to the major leagues, Megill pitched 130 innings, nearly double his career high and coming off a year of no actual in-game action.

Throwing that many innings and making that big of a jump taxes one’s arm considerably. It’s why a lot of teams get very cautious with rookie pitchers’ arms, as well as pitchers coming off injury. The issue is the Mets didn’t exactly have that luxury, with an entire starting rotation’s worth of pitchers either hurt or underperforming. He didn’t go very deep into many games, but the innings caught up, and he notably struggled for most of his starts in the last month and a half of the season.

Another issue may have been that once he had been around for a little while in the major leagues, other teams had the chance to figure him out. Once there’s that much footage out, teams can begin to figure out a pitcher. It happens to many a rookie, be they hitter or pitcher, and then it’s up to the player to make the adjustments. Sometimes it takes a bit for the player to adjust, and it couldn’t have been easy for Megill to be both past his limits and having teams figure out his typical plan of attack.

All this isn’t to say that Megill can’t be a part of the Mets’ plans for next season. He would be a great depth starter to have. But the key here is the word “depth.” If the Mets come into next season with Megill making the rotation outright without even a competition in spring training then something has gone awry. Megill could probably serve to start next season in Triple-A and get a few more innings under his belt, and be a back-up option in case of emergency. But the Mets should and can aim higher in the offseason to ensure that Megill doesn’t need to be thrown into the fire again.