When you’re down four or five
And you just need a guy
When your down on your luck
‘Cause the whole bullpen sucks
When Bryce Harper’s up
And Mickey is a nut
Yes, in case you forgot, literally Daniel Zamora was the choice to face Bryce Harper in the eighth inning of a 2-2 game on September 1. The Mets were 69-66 and four games out of the Wild Card. Fresh off back-breaking back-to-back sweeps by the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs, the Mets had a chance to respond with a sweep.
Instead, Zamora—who had just spent two months in the minors and was only in the majors due to the expanded rosters going into effect that day—came in. He predictably gave up a single, and then was yanked. Jeurys Familia followed, eventually loaded the bases and then emptied them by giving up a double, and the Mets lost. Zamora was the losing pitcher.
This isn’t to put the blame on Zamora; for one thing, it didn’t really make much sense that he was in the game at all. Instead, it’s to illustrate a weird confidence Callaway had in a guy that threw all of * checks notes * 8.2 innings over 17 appearances, by the end of the season. It was a snapshot of a player who, coming into 2019, could have had real use in that kind of role, but by that point in the season had clearly shown he didn’t have it.
It’s also to say Zamora pitched less than you think he did, if you’re like me. I think it was the threat of the LOOGY-who-actually-didn’t-have-splits-either-way that made it feel like he made at least twice the appearances he actually made.
Zamora looked a lot like the guy who showed promise in limited action in 2018 at the start 2019. Over his first six appearances, he tossed 3.2 innings with four strikeouts and two walks, with one hit and no runs. In three of those appearances, he pitched the entire inning.
He gave up his first run of the season on May 16, but then had a couple more clean-ish appearances. Where it came crashing down was May 27, when Callaway brought him in to face Enrique Hernandez of the Dodgers with two men on and the game tied. He immediately gave up a homer, then loaded the bases back up before hitting Corey Seager with a pitch and giving up a sac fly to Alex Verdugo. Five runs, three charged to him, and just one out (that drove in a run). His ERA ballooned from 1.59 to 6.00.
He didn’t pop back up in a Major League game until mid-June, when he got the final out of a 7-2 loss. He then spent over two months in the minors before finally coming back up when the rosters expanded on September 1.
Overall, Zamora’s numbers were just about what you would expect from a guy who threw eight innings over three stints with the club. He had a 5.19 ERA, which translates to five earned runs over the eight and change innings, plus 10 hits and five walks. That Hernandez homer was the only one he allowed.
It was a disappointing season for Tim Britton’s muse, especially after he looked solid in almost the same amount of action in 2018. In his first season, he had a 3.00 ERA over nine innings with a now-shocking 16 strikeouts to just three walks. If he can find a way to be that version of himself in 2020 as opposed to the “oh god no why is he in to face Harper” version he was in 2019, he could be a sneaky useful part of the Mets’ shaky bullpen.
When you’ve had a down year
Next season is unclear