PHILADELPHIA — If Tylor Megill’s first terrific start of the season was just a trial run against a rebuilding Nationals team, then his second outing of the year against a loaded Phillies lineup was a big test. Megill, again unflappable, passed with flying colors.
The young right-hander picked up where he left off on Opening Day, turning in another scoreless start in the Mets’ 2-0 win over the Phillies on Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park. Edwin Diaz shut the door in the ninth, striking out Kyle Schwarber, Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins, and collected his first save of the season. Diaz pounded the strike zone with sliders, getting whiffs on eight of the 15 he threw.
“It’s a little bit tough, but that’s my job,” said Diaz on pitching after the past few emotional days following his grandfather’s passing. “When I came into the game, I just let everything away. Just focused on the game.
The Mets (4-2) snapped a two-game losing streak and will try to win the series in Wednesday’s finale with Max Scherzer going toe-to-toe against Aaron Nola.
Megill allowed just three hits and recorded five strikeouts, while walking none, across 5.1 innings and 76 pitches. The 26-year-old leads all major league pitchers with 10.1 scoreless innings. Mets manager Buck Showalter is making it a priority to limit pitch counts for Megill and other starters in the beginning of the season. Megill said he understands that decision, but is looking forward to going deeper into his starts.
“Being able to just get the ball rolling and start the tempo, and get us going on a roll,” said Megill on providing a win for the team after a couple of tough losses. “Lots of confidence for sure. All my stuff is working really well right now.”
Brandon Nimmo homered off his former teammate, Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler, in the fifth to put the Mets on the board. Starling Marte’s first stolen base of the season in the eighth led to key insurance, as Francisco Lindor drove him in on an RBI single for a two-run lead. The Mets offense managed just three hits at the hitter-friendly Philly park.
Drew Smith was the bullpen hero on Tuesday after he took the ball from Chasen Shreve in the seventh in a one-run game. He struck out Hoskins and Didi Gregorius to end the frame, then Showalter asked him to pitch a second inning. Smith responded by retiring the side in the eighth, setting up Diaz’s save opportunity. Tuesday was Smith’s third relief appearance in six games. He said it’s clear Showalter is placing a lot of trust in him to get the job done, and that’s increased his confidence.
Smith said he tried to get a fastball up to Gregorius, knowing that the Phillies shortstop would chase it if he located it well. Smith’s 97 mph heater that got Gregorius to swing and miss was a couple of ticks higher than his career average. Megill, too, is throwing harder than ever this season. For his second consecutive start, Megill’s fastball clocked in at 99 mph on Tuesday.
“I’m trying to get on the Megill program,” Smith joked. “Redbull and two Advil, that’s what he told me. I tried it, I got an extra tick. We’re going to try it again next time.”
The last time Megill allowed a run to score was on Sept. 24, 2021, the penultimate start of his rookie season. Megill also kept opposing teams off the board in spring training last month, recording 6.2 scoreless innings and the lowest ERA (0.00) among all Mets pitchers to wrap up Grapefruit League games.
Not bad for a pitcher who wasn’t even expected to break camp with the team.
Megill became the Amazin’s Opening Day starter after Jacob deGrom learned he’d be shut down from throwing for four weeks with a right scapula injury. With Scherzer also battling a hamstring issue at the time, Megill had the responsibility of keeping the Mets rotation afloat. Since then, Megill is shaping up to be a major problem for opposing lineups, and a boon for the Mets pitching staff.
“He’s in a really good place right now. I don’t know what else to say,” Showalter said of Megill’s performance. “He was good again.”
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