The Mets will make an announcement about who will be New York’s fifth starter “shortly,” manager Buck Showalter said after Saturday’s 4-4 tie with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I’d say shortly,” Showalter said when asked when a decision would be announced. “Probably not tonight, but I’d say soon. As soon as [GM Billy Eppler is] comfortable with it. We just had a couple more conversations, we got some more, trying to get ’em all done tonight, as many as we can.”
The two likely candidates for the job are David Petersonwho made a start on the back fields on Saturday night, and Taylor Megillwho pitched five innings against the Cardinals.
At the end of spring, Megill finished with 17 innings of work and allowed nine runs (six earned) on 14 hits with 13 walks and 12 strikeouts. Peterson pitched just 12 innings but allowed no runs and one hit with eight walks and 13 strikeouts.
And for Megill, Saturday was a night he had hoped many in the public would not have seen, he struggled with his command to start the game, laboring through two innings on 54 pitches and finishing with three earned runs in five innings with five walks.
“There was a lot of close pitches, they were probably barely balls, but they’re still balls,” Showalter said.
Megill ran into trouble in the first, with a leadoff single and a bunt base hit before consecutive walks scored a run and led to a mound visit by the pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. The 27-year-old right-hander settled into the game after and allowed just one more run in the inning on a play that was ruled a sacrifice fly.
“I like the fact that it looked like he was gonna have a two-inning outing and he ended up pitching into the sixth,” Showalter said. “That’s one of the things Jeremy challenged him with after the first inning [for] the second inning let’s see how deep you can get into this game.
“That’s one of the reasons we tied it because he didn’t implode.”
After the game, Megill said he was throwing a lot of a new slider he was working on, which he is trying to throw harder at up to 88 MPH compared to 80-83 MPH, and he didn’t have a good feel for it early.
For Megill the spring was marked by positives, like having a good feel on his curveball, and negatives, the number of walks. But it will be up to Showalter and co. to determine if those positives outweigh the negatives.
“He’s healthy and he’s good physically and that’s a huge step for him and he’s in good shape and I think he’s gonna help us this year,” Showalter said of Megill. “I like the things I’m seeing. The arm’s moving good.”
Last season with the Mets, Megill made 15 appearances (nine starts) and pitched to a 5.13 ERA (3.77 FIP) over 47.1 innings with 51 strikeouts and a 1.246 WHIP.
Peterson, a 27-year-old lefty, made 28 appearances (19 starts) a season ago and pitched to a 3.83 ERA (3.64 FIP) over 105.2 innings with 126 strikeouts and a 1.334 WHIP.
And barring a few concerns with injuries and nicks and bruises, Showalter said, “we’ve got a pretty good idea” of the 26-man Opening Day roster the Mets will start with in Miami.