Mets reliever Tyler Jay completes unlikely path to long-awaited major league debut

Tyrone Taylor's pinch-hit, grand slam capped a monster offensive output for the New York Mets as they crushed the Atlanta Braves 16-4.

ATLANTA — Tyler Jay had ample time to wonder if he’d ever realize his dream of pitching in the major leagues when he was released by the Minnesota Twins in 2019.

“Maybe every day,” Jay said after his long-awaited debut on Thursday for the New York Mets, nine years after the left-hander was drafted by the Twins in the first round, No. 6 overall, in 2015.

Jay threw two innings, allowing one run, in the Mets’ 16-4 win over the Atlanta Braves and was named pitcher of the game by teammates who showed their appreciation for the determination he showed in his unlikely path to the majors.

“They just were like super pumped for me and happy for me, which means a lot,” Jay said.

Jay, 29, had to overcome a disease, eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE), and restart his career with the Joliet Slammers, an independent Frontier League team near his Chicago-area home. The disease affects the digestive process and causes him to lose weight, adding difficulty to his efforts on the mound.

“Every night you go to bed and wonder is this is worth it and every day you just get up and continue to grind,” Jay said. “I’m surrounded by a bunch of good people at home that were encouraging me to keep on going and believed in me when maybe I didn’t in myself at times.”

The Mets took notice, gave Jay a chance, and on Wednesday came the call he was being promoted from Triple-A Syracuse.

That gave Jay time to have family members, including his mother, wife, and cousin, at Truist Park to enjoy his debut.

Asked about his emotions after the game, Jay said “It was everything I could ask for.

“I think I’m still processing it a little bit. It’s crazy. It’s incredible. I think after the first couple of pitches I kind of settled down a little bit. OK, it’s just baseball, 60 feet, 6 inches.”

Jay was motivated by his two 4-month-old daughters, who remained at his Chicago-area home.

“They get to know Dad never quit, which means a lot to me,” an emotional Jay said. “It definitely means more now than it did before.”

Mets manager Carlos Mendoza said he was impressed by Jay’s debut.

“Good. Coming in here and throws strikes,” Mendoza said. “He was able to finish the game. For him to make his major league debut and attack hitters and throw strikes, keep the ball on the ground, he was good in a solid two innings for us.”

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