Editor’s Note: All Statistics are prior to Megill’s May 11 start vs. the Nationals.
When the year began nobody really knew what to expect from Tylor Megill, in fact nobody even expected him to be on the Major League roster. Yet, he was the Mets opening day starter and starred in the second no-hitter in franchise history. Last year he was excellent out of the gate too, but he faded down the stretch finishing the year with a 4.35 ERA and a 4.69 FIP. So far this year the 26-year-old has been a godsend for the Mets rotation as they await the return of Jacob deGrom. Though he had a rough outing against the Nationals, through his first six starts, Megill was 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA (157 ERA+) and a 2.41 FIP. This jumped to a 4.41 ERA after his most recent outing. However, Megill has made some changes to start the year that make his typical drop off far less likely, even after a tough day at the office.
Tylor, aka “Big Drip,” has been dealing to start the year, and the Mets may have found a diamond in the rough.
Keys to Early Success:
Tylor has a standard arsenal; he throws a 4-seam fastball, slider, and a changeup with the occasional curveball sprinkled in. He has thrown his fastball nearly 60% of the time across 123.0 big league innings. So a lot of his success rides on that pitch on the success of that pitch. So far this year, Tylor’s fastball has been excellent. He has added nearly a mile per hour to his fastball velocity, and he increased the active spin on that pitch from 90 to 96 percent. The result is less vertical drop and a 4-seamer that should generate more whiffs and less barrels—and that is exactly what Tylor has been doing so far this year.
The barrel rate against him is down from 10% in 2021 to 5.8% in 2022. His whiff rate on the 4-seamer this year is 30.1%, which is up 8.6% from 2021. Last year hitters had a .357 wOBA against his 4-seamer. That number is down to .259 through his first six starts this year. Tylor has already generated a -5 Run Value (RV) on the pitch making it one of the most valuable pitches in baseball so far this year. This is partially because of how often he throws it, but the -1.6 RV/100 pitches on the 4-seamer is still a pretty impressive mark.
The fastball improvement has been critical to Tylor’s early successes, but it hasn’t been his most impressive pitch. His slider is getting three more inches of vertical break this year, and it is giving hitters fits. In 24 plate appearances ending with a slider, Tylor has surrendered a lone hit—a single—and struck out 11 of the 24 hitters. The xwOBA against his slider this year is .149. The whiff rate against his slider is 33.1%.
The increased vertical break on his slider has helped Tylor get hitters to chase against him more often. He is getting swings 2.6% more often on pitches out of the zone this year, and when you get hitters to chase more often you miss bats more often. Tylor’s K-rate is up 1.6% from last year to 27.7%. His Whiff-rate is up 3.4% from last year to 29.3%. Despite all this, Tylor’s BB-rate has dropped. He is not sacrificing strikeouts for control; he is simply getting hitters to offer at bad pitches more often.
The improvement that Tylor has made to these two pitches is one of the biggest reasons for his early success, and at times, even dominance. However, he has never pitched a full big-league season and will be monitored closely by the Mets staff. He is due for a bit of regression either way, but it will be interesting to see if Tylor can maintain his fastball velo throughout the summer months after faltering a bit down the stretch last year.
Things to watch for:
Change in Pitch Usage
Tylor still throws his changeup and slider about the same amount of the time, with the slight edge going to the changeup. It seems like the changeup may be the secondary pitch Tylor feels most comfortable with. He often goes to it in big spots, even against right-handed hitters. However, the numbers this year suggest that the changeup may be his worst secondary pitch. Hitters have a .355 wOBA against the changeup this year, and it was .349 last year. I would not be surprised to see Tylor begin to rely more heavily on the aforementioned slider for his go to secondary pitch as he gets more comfortable with it. Additionally, the sample size on his curveball is small, but the observed movement tunnels beautifully off his fastball. That pitch could become a weapon for him sooner rather than later.
Two of the big indicators that Tylor is due to regress a bit are his .238 BABIP and his 7.1 HR/FB%. Last year 18.8% of his fly balls went for home runs; there is probably a happy medium in there somewhere, but I expect Tylor to fall victim to the long ball a bit more frequently as we get into the summer months. The .238 BABIP isn’t an aberration, but it will probably rise a bit as well. Neither of these numbers suggest Tylor has been getting extremely lucky, but marginally so, and some regression can be expected.
The main concern for the Mets surrounding Megill is longevity. Right now, all his numbers, and most of his peripherals, point to him being a very successful big-league pitcher. Yet, the Mets saw these flashes of brilliance last year when he first came up. In his first 7 starts for the Mets he had a 2.04 ERA. However, in 54.1 innings from August on, he gave up 15 homeruns and posted a 6.05 ERA. Right now, the big right-hander is one of the most promising young arms in the game; it will be interesting to see if he can keep up his early season success.
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