This offseason Sandy Alderson swapped left handed relievers with the Pirates, as the Mets sent Josh Smoker to Pittsburgh in exchange for 25-year old Daniel Zamora. Thus far, this deal is looking to be a nice find for Alderson and the Mets.
Zamora put together a strong first season in the Mets organization, pitching for Double-A Binghamton. In 40 games, the lefty went 1-1 with two saves a 3.48 ERA, 69 strikeouts, sixteen walks, and held opposing hitters to a .197 batting average over 51.2 innings.
On August 17, the 40th round pick received the call to the big leagues. Since being called up, Zamora has been a tremendous addition to the Mets bullpen, quickly earning the trust of Mets manager Mickey Callaway.
“He comes in there and throws the ball over the plate and gives us a chance.. That’s what we are looking for,” Callaway recently told Tim Healey of Newsday.
During the Mets 5-3 loss on Saturday afternoon in Boston, Zamora tossed 1.1 scoreless innings and was stellar as usual. He used his unhittable slider to help him strike out four of the five batters he faced, including young lefties Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’m going to try to do my best to take advantage of the opportunity, and try to help the team win some ballgames,” Zamora said postgame.
Over just seven major league innings, the Stony Brook product has a pair of holds, a 3.86 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, 14 strikeouts, an 18.0 K/9, and is unscored upon in nine of his eleven outings.
Small sample or not, Zamora’s slider is legit. There’s a reason he relies on the pitch 81.5% of the time. His low-slot release makes the pitch deceptive, and helps him put a nice spin on the ball. In fact, the spin rate on his slider is higher than three top relievers; Andrew Miller, Brad Hand, and Josh Hader.
After his lights out outing on Saturday, Callaway had nothing but more praise for the young lefty.
“He spins the ball really well, and he doesn’t give in. He sneaks his fastball in there when it’s convenient to get them off that slider, and he executes,” Callaway said.
Despite having reverse splits over his minor league career, Callaway has been using Zamora in a lefty specialist role. With Jerry Blevins headed to free agency this offseason, Zamora could be pitching his way into a ‘LOOGY’ role for the Mets bullpen next season if he continues to mow-down opposing hitters.
In a very small sample size, lefties are hitting just 4-for-16 (.250) with one home run and nine of Zamora’s fourteen strikeouts. With Binghamton this year, lefties hit to a clip of .245, and righties hit .153 against him.
Zamora has been thrown into big spots and while some of the other young relievers have faltered, he has pitched exceptionally well. With Zamora looking more and more impressive in each outing, Callaway should look to lean on the lefty more often as the season comes to a close to see how he does as hitters adjust to his slider usage.
Even with the Mets expected to be adding a couple of relievers over the offseason, Zamora and that wicked slider of his has earned himself at the very least a shot to earn a roster spot in Spring Training next season.