BOSTON — Tylor Megill struggled with the Mets to start this season and has sunk even further into the abyss since his demotion last month.
With a brutal outing Sunday, the right-hander owns a 10.29 ERA in five starts for Triple-A Syracuse.
The most alarming number might be his eight strikeouts in 21 innings.
Megill’s decline has flummoxed Mets officials, who are trying to get the 27-year-old back on a path toward the major leagues.
Manager Buck Showalter called Megill’s struggles “puzzling” and Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner said organizational officials are actively involved in trying to reconstruct the pitcher.
“It’s been a tough go for him,” Hefner said. “His fastball is still not where we want it and he’s working his butt off. This isn’t a passive thing we are going through. We are actively working on a lot of mechanical things and trying to get his pitch shape back to where it was last year.”
Megill was 6-4 with a 5.17 ERA in 15 starts for the Mets and averaged 94.5 mph with his four-seam fastball before he was optioned to Syracuse on June 22.
Last season he averaged 95.7 mph with the same pitch.
There was also the issue of Megill’s 39 walks in 71 ¹/₃ innings.
Since returning to Syracuse he has continued to struggle on that front, with 10 walks in 21 innings.
Last offseason, Megill lost weight to help prepare him for the pitch clock and the increased cardiovascular activity.
But even with his struggles, the Mets do not want Megill to regain the weight.
“He has changed his body in some ways, but he’s also been a lot stronger,” Hefner said. “Whenever those things happen, sometimes it takes time to adjust because your body underwent some changes, so we’re trying to get him back not weight-wise or strength-wise, but pitch shape wise and how he pitches, back to what he was doing last year. We thought we were on a good path.”
In his Sunday start, Megill lasted only 3 ¹/₃ innings against Buffalo and allowed five earned runs on six hits and three walks.
It followed a start against the same club in which he lasted only two innings and allowed eight earned runs on eight hits and one walk.
Megill was the Mets’ Opening Day starter last year, but injuries — including a shoulder strain — ultimately kept him sidelined for most of the season.
Upon returning, Megill spoke of not trying to throw as hard as previously to decrease his risk of injury while saving his best heat for the late innings.
“You are always walking the line between health and performance,” Hefner said. “This is a performance industry. You have to perform — even if it’s at the cost of putting yourself at risk of getting hurt, but you don’t know that. You don’t know that you are going to get hurt.
“We are constantly walking that wire with guys here too and how we use the bullpen and Kodai [Senga], he’s performing so do you pitch him every five days or not pitch him every five days because he is pitching well? There is always kind of this go between with health and performance.”
The Mets are encouraged by the improvement they have received from David Peterson since his return from Syracuse.
The lefty — who has been pitching lately from the Mets’ bullpen — can be moved to the rotation if the team has a need.
But the Mets’ rotation depth is limited.
“We have got a lot of good people trying to figure it out [with Megill],” Showalter said. “We have got some ideas about what’s changed. … I’ve seen the comparisons, and he’s healthy, that is the big thing.”