WASHINGTON — Taylor Miguel wasn’t the first accidental opening-day start in Mets history, but he may have been the most likely.
The right-hander began spring training as a deep-turning after a solid rookie year, but with a range of events the bowler will be the starting pitcher when the Mets begin their season Thursday against the National, weather permitting.
“It just happened to fall in the right place as the throwing ranks line up with Opening Day,” Megill said Wednesday after team practice in Nationals Park — where manager Buck Showalter officially called him the starter in the opener. “They just chose me.”
The beginning goes back to Jacob Degrom until the two-time award-winning Cy Young reported a shoulder pain diagnosed as a stress reaction in his right shoulder that would keep him on the sidelines for a long time. The other top spinner, Max Scherzer, has recently been bothered by a tight hamstring and won’t be firing until Friday, at the earliest. Not wanting to rearrange his alignment with Chris Bassett, Carlos Carrasco and Taiwan Walker later in the spin, Showalter needed another option for Thursday.
Thus, the unveiling of the 2022 Mets – a team that was rebuilt in the off-season largely on owner Steve Cohen’s money – will come with 26-year-old Megill up the hill. Last season, he reached 4.52 ERA in 18 starts for the team after being pressured into the emergency service with major pitchers injured.
“Keep in mind, it’s a long season,” Showalter said. “It’s Opening Day and it’s the start of the season, but I don’t think anyone will remember who delivered Opening Day in about a month.”
The new Mets on display will include Starling Marte, Mark Canha and Eduardo Escobar, who arrived in the Offseason under free agent contracts (along with Scherzer) and who helped push the Mets’ salaries up to $285 million. Then there’s the 65-year-old Showalter, about to begin his fifth major league assignment. When he was last seen running a team in New York, he took the Yankees to postseason in 1995.
He’s really organized, he’s meticulous, he’s trying to be prepared,” said Brandon Nemo. “I don’t think we’re going to lose a game because Buck wasn’t ready, so I gather we’ll be ready for this season, we’ll be very prepared for every situation and he expects a lot from us.”
Mets general manager Billy Eppler loves the team he put together, but stops short of calling it complete.
“I always look to where things can be improved,” Ebler said. “You think of the heap, you think of the top players, and that’s just part of my job is to really look at these things in an objective way, with my crew. I can always point to something…if we can do something in a certain area to enhance or add depth, it’ll be These are important aspects for us to do.”
For Eppler and Showalter, it’s been a frantic week of trying to craft a plan through recent injuries, and as well as DeGrom and Scherzer, the team has been keeping an eye on Nimmo, who received an injection of cortisone on Monday for a stiff neck. His status will not be determined until Thursday’s game.
“I’m surprised it took so long,” Showalter said, referring to the string of injuries. “When one of them happens, you always know something else is coming. It’s part of it. Everyone’s been dealing with it in the spring. No one wants to hear you complain about it—it’s part of the party.”
After extensive spring training, Showalter was thrilled to have arrived at this moment, the climax of a new season.
“We’ve come a long way since the lockdown,” he said. “Think about where we are, when you hear the gloves go off and the guys, you can see they’re getting a slightly different look on their faces.”