Tom Wilhelmsen discusses his renewed success with Mariners
Tom Wilhelmsen’s return to the Mariners could not be going much more different than his brief stint with the Rangers.
After being one of the more reliable pieces of Seattle’s bullpen for five seasons, Wilhelmsen was sent to Texas in the offseason trade in which the Mariners acquired center fielder Leonys Martin. The 32-year-old reliever struggled mightily, posting a 10.55 ERA in 21.1 innings before Texas dropped him from its 40-man roster. Since Seattle scooped him back up, Wilhelmsen has a 1.56 ERA over 17.1 innings, lowering his WHIP from 2.20 in Texas to 1.03 with the Mariners.
What changed? “Bob, Groz and Tom” asked Wilhemsen that question on Wednesday.
“I think about it a little bit myself and then realize maybe I shouldn’t think about it because this is working out pretty good,” he said with a laugh. “Honestly, I don’t know. I think a lot of it has to do with being comfortable. I’m not saying I wasn’t comfortable in Texas but Seattle is my home and it is just what makes me feel good.
“But I think also a lot of it has to do with pitch placement. I was kind of leaving things right down the middle in Texas and I don’t seem to be doing that as much with Seattle.”
Wilhelmsen said he never lost confidence in his ability to pitch, mixing his 97 mph fastball with a curveball, changeup and slider. He looked at film but “couldn’t figure it out.”
“I’m having more luck with hitting my spots in a Seattle uniform than I was with a Texas uniform, which is thankful because I love it much more here anyway,” he said.
Wilhemsen grew up in the Southwest but revived his career and started his family in Seattle. He’s been living in an apartment in Ballard without most of his belongings since returning, but he said his comfort level in Washington is beyond compare.
“It’s more my wave than Texas was, as far as pretty much everything you could think of,” he said. “If you want to get down into it – food, politics, religion, the whole nine yards. It’s just more my style.”