If not Wilhelmsen then who could be the M’s closer?
By Gary Hill
Tom Wilhelmsen only recorded one out Wednesday night as the Astros exploded for six runs in the ninth inning to hand the Mariners a 6-1 loss.
The blissful April and May Wilhelmsen enjoyed has given way to a June nightmare. His ERA sat at 0.75 on the last day of May, but has ballooned to 3.77 in just a handful of June outings. He only yielded two earned runs in the entire first two months of the season. Opponents have scored 10 runs off of him since.
Here is how the rest of his numbers in April and May compare to the month of June:
Wilhelmsen has not pitched a single clean inning in the month of June and whispers regarding his job security have arose thanks to his recent struggles.
What are the options for the Mariners at closer?
Danny Farquhar. He has done some good things in the Mariners’ pen in his short stay. He has fanned 18 in nearly 11 innings of work. He also has not been scored on in his first inning of work in any outing. He has been touched up for 10 runs, which has elevated his season ERA to 8.44.
Carter Capps. Closing games may be in his future, but the numbers suggest he is not ready yet. He has overwhelmed right-handed hitters this season. He has fanned 27 of them while walking just two. He has also just yielded four extra-base hits in 74 plate appearances. The problem has been with lefties. They are hitting .308 against him with seven extra-base hits in just 45 plate apearances. The most telling stat is that he has only struck out seven lefties on the season while walking five. Manager Eric Wedge has spotted him for matchups in six of his last nine appearances. He would obviously need to figure it out versus left-handed hitters to close effectively.
Yoervis Medina. He has flashed serious potential and he has steadily increased his role as the season has progressed. Neither righties (.208) nor lefties (.194) have hit him particularly well. The issue has been bases on balls. He has walked 13 hitters in just 21 2/3 innings. He has also only appeared in 21 big league games.
Charlie Furbush. The lefty can get hitters out from both sides of the plate. He is (.171) against lefties on the year and (.111) against righties. He has fanned 34 hitters in 25 innings, which is good, but he has also walked 15. He has allowed three homers this season, which matches his total from last year, but he has only given up one double.
Oliver Perez. If a change were to be made at the back end of the bullpen then Perez probably provides the most appealing option. He has only allowed three runs this season and two of them were thanks to solo homers. The last run he yielded was on May 18 in Cleveland. He has fanned 32 hitters in 23 1/3 innings this year. Wedge has been spotting him against left-handed hitters for many of his outings the past few weeks, but he is capable of retiring hitters from both sides.
Wilhelmsen. The best-case scenario is for Wilhelmsen to disavow the June version of himself and dial in the April and May version instead. He was solid in the role last year and flourished to start the year. The current bullpen is not brimming with perfect solutions to fill the role. Wilhelmsen at the top provides the best balance for the bullpen as a unit.
In the meantime, the closer situation will be watched very closely this weekend in Oakland.