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Inside Tylor Megill’s crucial Mets bullpen transition


In need of as many high-caliber arms as possible, the Mets are transitioning Tylor Megill from starter to reliever for the remainder of this season.

Megill, 27, spent 1 ½ years in the minor leagues primarily as a reliever before becoming a full-time starter in 2019. That experience likely will be helpful as he continues a minor-league rehab assignment at Triple-A Syracuse before potentially joining the Mets bullpen during the team’s next homestand. Megill was electric in five April starts — all Mets wins — compiling a 1.93 ERA and 27 strikeouts (against six walks) in 28 innings. He struggled in four subsequent starts sandwiched around an IL stint due to biceps tendinitis, and has been sidelined since mid-June because of a right shoulder strain.

Few better understand the differences in approach to the jobs of starter and reliever than Seth Lugo, who has settled into the Mets bullpen after spending much of his early major league career in the starting rotation. Lugo spoke to Post Sports+ about the challenges of switching roles.

What kind of mindset change does a pitcher need to go from starter to reliever?

Seth Lugo: It’s similar to pitching a good game and getting to the seventh inning on a high pitch count, knowing that you have to get those guys out or someone else is coming in for you. You have to lock it in with the first pitch [as a reliever] and … have your stuff as soon as you come in the game. You can’t take an inning or two to feel what you’ve got. You’ve got to figure it out in the seven warm-up pitches you get between innings.

Seth Lugo #67 of the New York Mets throws a pitch in the 7th inning, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Queens, NY.
Having pitched as a starter and a reliever, Seth Lugo has grown accustomed to the different mindset and approach in working out of the bullpen.
Corey Sipkin

Was that a tough transition for you?

SL: No. I closed a little bit in college and I pitched in relief almost the whole year of 2014 in the minors, [so] … it wasn’t too big a difference for me … when I got called up in 2016. My first eight or nine outings with the Mets were from the bullpen, so things were a little fresher for me.

Would you describe that difference in approach between the two roles you referenced earlier?

SL: You start the game, and first pitch of the game you’re throwing a first-pitch fastball 99 percent of the time and then you kind of go off of that. But from the bullpen that’s not the best tactic, to just throw one down the middle. You don’t want to start the seventh or eighth inning that way.

What about the difference in knowing you’ll pitch every fifth day as opposed to arriving at the ballpark every day understanding it’s possible you’ll be needed? Or do you have a good idea as a reliever which days you aren’t pitching?

SL: With Buck [Showalter], not so much. He keeps me on my toes. Especially the last two months, I’ve been pitching in every situation, so I kind of watch the game and say, ‘I can line up here, I can line up there.’ Not often do I think I’m not going to pitch that day. That is pretty rare. Maybe if I had thrown a couple of innings the day before or something like that.

Buck Showalter #11 of the New York Mets pulls Tylor Megill #38 of the New York Mets from the game during the 6th inning.
According to Lugo, relievers need to be ready to throw in almost any game and in almost any situation with Buck Showalter in the dugout.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

What advice would you give Megill during this process?

SL: My biggest advice would be to not think about your role, especially at this point in the season. With the team we have, just being a part of it is the key right now. I’m sure he wants to be a starter, but get through the season and push through the playoffs — that’s what the team needs. … How he is as a person — really calm and cool — things don’t really bother him that much, so I feel like he’s poised to make an easy transition. I think the biggest thing for him is going to be figuring out how to recover faster, because that’s the hardest part being a reliever — being ready to go the next day or when the team needs you. He’s been around the bullpen at home, so we’ve … talked to him about how to go about each game in the bullpen and stay prepared during the game. So I think, of all people, he will handle it.

On your Mark, get set?

The calls for the Mets to promote Mark Vientos from Syracuse and bring a bat with big right-handed power potential to the lineup are understandable after the 22-year-old has blasted 23 homers in 100 games.

The question is: Where would Vientos fit with the Mets as presently constructed? The club already has one player in Daniel Vogelbach who is limited to the DH spot, and Vientos hasn’t shown enough defensively at third base to warrant consideration at the position. Showalter values defensive flexibility, and it’s unclear Vientos has that.

New York Mets Mark Vientos waits to bat at spring training, Sunday, March 20, 2022, in Port St. Lucie, FL.
Mark Vientos’ power numbers have fans anticipating his arrival to Queens, but the Mets’ roster construction makes a promotion from Triple-A complicated.
Corey Sipkin

There’s also the question of who Vientos would replace on the roster. Because he essentially would be a duplicate of Darin Ruf (i.e., a right-handed DH and bat off the bench), would he be so much better an option that the Mets would release Ruf (for whom they surrendered four players in a trade with the Giants)? Ruf has struggled since arriving in New York (no homers and .441 OPS in 48 plate appearances, including a current 1-for-25 skid), but he is a veteran who won’t be fazed by anything that might await the Mets in October. And one need look no further than Eduardo Escobar’s recent resurgence for an example of how fast opinions can change on players.

The time is coming soon — this winter — when the Mets will have to decide whether to clear space for him to receive a shot as the full-time DH next year or to trade him. For the rest of this season, though, he doesn’t seem to fit with the Mets.

Hefner confident in Mets’ playoff options

New York Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner speaks to pitcher Carlos Carrasco before a spring training game against the Washington Nationals, Saturday, March 26, 2022, in Port St. Lucie, FL.
Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner feels the Mets’ rotation is capable of getting the team through a playoff run whether it starts in the wild-card round or in the NL Division Series.
Corey Sipkin

Preliminary talk about a postseason rotation is something pitching coach Jeremy Hefner would like to avoid. Much, of course, depends on the health of starting pitchers and whether the Mets are playing the wild-card round or advancing directly to the NLDS by winning the division with one of the National League’s two best records.

Hefner said he won’t start considering a postseason rotation until the Mets have clinched a spot and many of the variables are understood.

“Whenever that happens and we’re in the postseason, we have really good options to put out there, whether we play in the wild-card game or go straight to the division series, Hefner said. “I like our chances regardless.”



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