The New York Mets have had players surprise their fans and the organization for both good and bad. Some players were afterthoughts heading into a season and surprisingly had great performances, such as J.D. Davis in 2019. Some players had immense expectations and completely imploded, such as Jason Bay in 2010. The problem for the 2023 Mets is that most players surprised us and underperformed expectations, thus losing 87 games.
For every playoff team in baseball, a player without great expectation has risen to the occasion and helped enhance the team's performance. Rookie outfielder Evan Carter on the Texas Rangers helped answer their question mark in left field and won a championship. Nathan Eovaldi coming off of two Tommy John Surgeries became the lethal weapon in the playoffs that helped the Boston Red Sox win in 2018. For the Mets to succeed in 2024, which player must step up and surprise us the most?
Tylor Megill will surprise us with a bounce-back season in 2024.
The Mets’ starting rotation is still a work in progress for David Stearns and company. While the front office has added Luis Severino and Adrian Houser to the equation, the team is still short on viable starting pitchers for a full season. For the Mets to compete in 2024, at least one starter must exceed their expectations.
Tylor Megill has a great chance to bounce back in 2024. For starters, Megill struggled mightily in the first half of 2023, seeing his velocity often drop around the 5th and 6th innings. For a pitcher that relies heavily on the vertical break on his fastball being above league average, Megill needs this pitch to last him for a full 6-7 inning start. In Jeremy Hefner's terms, this was due to bad habits being drawn from rehabbing his shoulder injury that cost Megill most of 2022. Megill even alluded to this while rehabbing in 2022 by saying velocity could be the reason for his shoulder injury.
Megill seemed to have corrected this mechanical error following a demotion to AAA Syracuse in June. Following the trades of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, Megill dominated posting a 2.76 ERA across 29.1 innings in September. Megill's velocity was back to normal, maintaining a 95-96 MPH fastball later into each start. In hindsight, Megill's problem in 2023 seemed to be more mental in terms of confidence and just reaching back to throw rather than prevent an injury.
Furthermore, Megill must be feeling motivated to show the front office he still belongs in the starting rotation. Stearns did acquire Houser and tendered Joey Lucchesi a contract, meaning these three pitchers will compete with each other for a starting role. Assuming the Mets add at least one more arm to the rotation, Megill must show his dominance from September can be replicated across a full season to earn the trust of the organization.