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WASHINGTON — Tylor Megill was barely a blip on the Mets’ radar in spring training, but the decimation of the organization’s rotation depth and a brutal schedule has placed him in this spot Tuesday to make a second straight start for the team.
Here’s what team officials deduced about the 25-year-old rookie in his major league debut last week against the Braves: He won’t be intimidated.
“How he carried himself through his pregame throwing routine and how he managed innings, there were some deep counts at times,” pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said before the Mets lost 8-4 to the Nationals on Monday. “And he kept making pitches, so I was just really impressed with his poise.”
Megill in that start against the Braves allowed two earned runs over 4 ¹/₃ innings. The Mets had the rotation opening during a stretch in which they played three doubleheaders in less than a week, plus had to replace Joey Lucchesi after he tore his ulnar collateral ligament and underwent subsequent Tommy John surgery.
It has left Megill in the conversation for a starting assignment, along with Jerad Eickhoff. The veteran Eickhoff started Monday night at Nationals Park and gave up five runs in six innings, after giving the Mets four shutout innings against the Braves in Game 2 of a doubleheader last week.
The Mets will condense to a five-man rotation beginning Wednesday and choose between Megill and Eickhoff, the latter of whom might hold the advantage because he doesn’t have minor league options remaining.
“If there’s not a spot in the rotation, one of them can help us to be a long guy and do something similar to what [Corey] Oswalt did for us [Sunday],” manager Luis Rojas said. “Oswalt saved our bullpen. It was great, and that is another option to start a game for us. I think it’s a good problem to have and the need that we have right now.”
In his extended relief appearance, Oswalt pitched four shutout innings against the Phillies. It followed a 2 ¹/₃-inning relief appearance against the Braves in which the right-hander allowed one earned run.
If team officials base the decision on pure stuff, Megill and his 95-96 mph fastball would get the call.
“The fastball jumps on people,” Hefner said. “It’s a big body and it’s kind of a slow delivery, so it kind of seems lethargic, maybe. But it jumps on people and we saw it with some of the swings that Atlanta was taking. They weren’t squaring his fastball up, so there is something happening there where it’s getting on guys.
“But you can describe him as a power pitcher, because the slider is 88, fastball is 97 and changeup is 86, 87, so it’s power stuff for sure.”
Megill, an eighth-round pick by the Mets in the 2018 draft, began this season at Double-A Binghamton before receiving a promotion this month to Triple-A Syracuse.
“I didn’t know much about him before this offseason, and he didn’t pitch last year [due to the pandemic],” Hefner said. “Normally I would have known of him because he would have started in Double-A or started in High-A and gone to Double-A so I would have seen the updates on the minor league side. He continues to hone his craft and worked hard to put him in this position to be successful.”
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