Tylor Megill became the least-experienced pitcher ever to start on Opening Day for the New York Mets when he got the ball on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Megill might be the least-experienced pitcher ever asked to serve as the Mets’ stopper.
Megill will be tasked with trying to halt an early-season skid when he takes the mound for the visiting Mets in the middle game of a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
Megill (1-0, 0.00 ERA) is slated to oppose former Mets pitcher and fellow right-hander Zack Wheeler (14-10, 2.78 ERA in 2021), who will be making his season debut.
The Mets’ bullpen melted down for the second straight game Monday, when a trio of relievers combined to give up five runs as the Phillies stormed back to earn a 5-4 win. Rhys Hoskins and Didi Gregorius hit back-to-back, two-out RBI doubles off Seth Lugo, with Hoskins’ hit tying the game and Gregorius’ knocking in the decisive run.
“We try to stay in reality, but this one hurts,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “But the good thing is we’ve got a chance to take that hurt away (Tuesday).”
The bullpen struggles — Chasen Shreve and Trevor Williams surrendered a combined three runs in the eighth inning of a 4-2 loss to the Washington Nationals on Sunday — may already be of secondary concern for the Mets, who lost starting pitcher Taijuan Walker and reliever Trevor May to arm injuries Monday night.
Walker struck out four over two perfect innings before exiting with an irritated right shoulder. May left with right arm fatigue after issuing a walk to Alec Bohm leading off the eighth. Both hurlers are scheduled to undergo MRI exams on Tuesday.
The Mets will hope Megill — whose 89 2/3 major league innings entering this season were the fewest by an Opening Day starter in franchise history — can match his effort from Thursday.
Megill, who was pressed into the No. 1 slot when incumbent ace Jacob deGrom was placed on the injured list because of a right shoulder injury and free agent acquisition Max Scherzer was pushed back a day due to a tight right hamstring, looked like an ace-caliber pitcher by blanking the Nationals on three hits over five innings.
Wheeler, who finished second in the National League Cy Young Award balloting after leading the Senior Circuit with 247 strikeouts and 213 1/3 innings pitched last season, is expected to be on a pitch count after missing all of the abbreviated Grapefruit League season due to shoulder soreness.
The 31-year-old was slated to start against the Toronto Blue Jays in an exhibition game April 2 before he was scratched due to a rainy forecast. Wheeler believes the intrasquad games he appeared in April 2 and April 7 will be enough to prepare him for opposing the team with which he played from 2013-19.
“I’m not just coming out here brand new like everybody kind of thinks,” Wheeler said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Yeah, I didn’t face big league hitters. But at the same time, you’re trying to get outs down there. You’re trying to pitch guys mentally how you would in a big league game.”
Megill lost his lone previous start against the Phillies last Aug. 7, when he gave up four runs over 4 2/3 innings as the Mets fell 5-3.
Wheeler is 4-1 with a 2.63 ERA in eight starts against New York since signing a five-year deal with the Phillies in December 2019.
–Field Level Media