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Category: closer
August 5, 2013 at 8:07 AM

Mariners should consider making Tom Wilhelmsen a starter again

Mariners relief pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen has been bounced from his closer's role for the second time this season. Photo Credit: AP

Mariners relief pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen has been bounced from his closer’s role for the second time this season. Photo Credit: AP

Tom Wilhelmsen is no longer closing games for the Mariners and might not do that job again this season. When the Mariners yanked Wilhelmsen from the job after last week’s meltdown in a mop-up situation in Boston, it represented more than merely giving him a rest. It demonstrated that the Mariners have lost confidence in his ability to close.

Otherwise, they’d have shrugged it off as Wilhelmsen being outside his “role” of coming into tight games rather than blowouts. They’s have looked back at his six consecutive saves prior to The Boston Collapse and shrugged this off as just one of those nights.

But they haven’t. And the reason is that, no matter how many saves Wilhelmsen has compiled already, he simply does not instill confidence in the team when he takes the mound. This blowing games thing has lingered for most of this season and a good part of last year’s second half as well. This is more about Wilhelmsen than it is about Danny Farquhar or Yoervis Medina. It’s about whether Wilhelmsen has the mindset to close games and shrug off setbacks. And right now, the team appears to be leaning towards a “No” vote on that and if that’s the case, then the team must give serious thought as to whether it wants him closing next year as well.

This fifth year of a rebuilding plan that likely won’t produce a .500 season this year — the two wins to finish off a 2-4 road trip notwithstanding — has been largely sacrificed on the altar of Wilhelmsen’s shortcomings. He isn’t the only reason the team has underperformed in terms of wins and losses, but he’s a huge part of it. And so, the team can’t simply shrug it off, declare that “2014 is a new year” and simply trot him back out there next year as if nothing happened in 2013.

Because if they’re wrong, this whole rinse, lather, repeat business will likely burn off the trust of even those fans willing to forgive another losing season this time in the name of some new faces and youth-driven hope.

Which leaves us with the question of what to do with Wilhelmsen. Right now, he looks like a piece that could be added to a winter trade. But if the Mariners hang on to him, I’d like to see them try something outside the box to help revive his stalled career.

I’d like to see them try to make Wilhelmsen a starting pitcher.


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