Daniel Zamora looks to build off strong first impression
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — 2018 was a year of firsts for Mets lefthander Daniel Zamora. First big-league appearance. First strikeout. First win. First baby.
That last one happened on Oct. 16, when Zamora’s girlfriend, Courtney, gave birth to a girl the couple named Adeline.
Four days later, Daniel posted some photos on Twitter showing Adeline wearing sports gear. Not Mets gear, though: Adeline was sporting a Stony Brook onesie. Her dad is a product of the Seawolves’ athletic program.
Fast-forward to spring training, where Zamora is facing an uphill battle to make the Mets’ Opening Day roster. He impressed in 16 games after getting called up from Double-A Binghamton in 2018 but has a 9.82 exhibition ERA and likely will start the season at Triple-A Syracuse.
The Mets improved their bullpen from the end of last season, when Mickey Callaway was auditioning youngsters in August and September. Zamora, 25, went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 16 strikeouts in nine innings. He held lefthanded batters to a .222 average and did even better against righties (.154).
“That was last year,” Zamora said. “I don’t really focus on that kind of stuff. This is this year. I’m trying to help the team win games this year.”
In the offseason, the Mets added three veteran lefthanders who could start the season in the bullpen. Justin Wilson signed for two years and $10 million and Luis Avilan and Hector Santiago agreed to minor-league contracts. Avilan hasn’t given up a run in five outings and Santiago has a 1.80 ERA in three appearances.
Zamora’s big-league experience should serve him well if and when the Mets need to dip down for a lefty specialist. With his family among the crowd of 40,460, he made his debut on Aug. 17 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia and struck out the first batter he faced, Cesar Hernandez.
“The first time you walk out there, it’s like, ‘Oh, wow,’ ’’ Zamora said. “I had never pitched in a stadium that big, with that many people before. Minor league fields are kind of tiny and empty, so I looked up and I was just like, ‘Oh, wow, this is actually happening.’ ”
Zamora pitched 1 1⁄3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts. He picked up a win on Sept. 29 in Miami when he threw a scoreless inning in the Mets’ 1-0, 13-inning win.
It was a good first look at the majors, but Zamora wants more. “I always have higher expectations for myself,” he said. “I’m never satisfied with how I play. I can always be better at something. The goal is to always be better. My main thing is I just have to be better with my fastball. [Pitching coach Dave Eiland] has been awesome, trying to help me to be more consistent with my mechanics. If I can be more consistent with what I do, then my fastball will be better. If my fastball gets better, then my slider will be better because of it.”