Wilhelmsen sent to Tacoma; Capps returning
Wilhelmsen lost his closer’s role for a second time this season after a ninth-inning meltdown at Boston on Thursday when he allowed four straight baserunners without getting an out as the Mariners blew a 7-2 lead in the ninth inning.
Wilhelmsen hasn’t pitched for the Mariners since, but started Tuesday afternoon’s game for Tacoma as the Mariners want to give him a chance to work on his pitches in a potential multi-inning situation and see how things progress.
Wilhelmsen threw two innings for the Rainiers, giving up three hits and three runs — including two homers — in two innings of work while throwing 31 pitches against Iowa.
Wilhelmsen, 29, posted a 4.37 ERA with 24 saves and five blown saves in 47 appearances this season in his second year as closer. He saved 29 games with a 2.50 ERA after taking over the closer’s role from Brandon League in midseason last year.
Rookie right-hander Danny Farquhar has successfully closed out both save situations since Wilhelmsen was taken out of the role Friday.
Capps, 22, is a hard-throwing right-hander who went 2-2 with a 6.37 ERA in 33 appearances for the Mariners before being optioned to Tacoma on July 11. He’s been pitching well for the Rainiers with a 1.64 ERA in seven outings. He’s allowed just six hits with four walks and nine strikeouts in 11 innings.
Wilhelmsen was out of baseball for five seasons from 2004-08 before the Mariners signed him and he made a quick rise through the system, earning a bullpen role in 2011. He was sent down to Double-A Jackson in midseason that year and given 12 starts, but returned to a relief role when he was recalled and has strictly pitched out of the bullpen since.
The Mariners aren’t saying yet if they’re officially converting Wilhelmsen to a starting role, but it appears they’ll at least give him some multiple-inning appearances to work on his pitches and see how things progress.
With a mid-90s fastball, a wicked curve and a changeup, Wilhelmsen has always been an intriguing starting prospect, but he filled a valuable role as closer last year. But after struggling with that situation as this season progressed, it certainly couldn’t hurt to see if Wilhelmsen is more suited to a starting role if that’s how things play out.