Per Shannon Drayer and Larry Stone, Mariners relief pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen has been sent down to Triple-A Tacoma. Wilhelmsen was seen emptying out his locker and getting handshakes and hugs from his teammates following the Mariners’ 3-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays Monday night. Carter Capps will be recalled to take Wilhelmsen’s place.
It can’t be called a completely unexpected move, considering Wilhelmsen’s most recent outing in Boston on August 1 — that ninth-inning fiasco in which the Mariners gave up a five-run lead. Wilhelmsen was responsible for four of those runs. He was subsequently ousted from the closer role for a second time this season, after previously losing that title on June 14.
Acting manager Robby Thompson called Wilhelmsen’s struggles a confidence issue the other day. This could be a move to help him rebuild some of this missing confidence. It also could be to experiment with him in a different role — recently, Geoff Baker discussed the possibility of Wilhelmsen converting back to a starter. It’s an interesting proposition but not an outrageous one; Wilhelmsen certainly has the pitches in his repertoire to make it happen.
Greg Johns said that Wilhelmsen will throw a few innings today, as they want to see him work on his pitches in a multiple-inning situation. Eventually he may progress back into a starting role. But what’s important for Wilhelmsen is that he builds back some confidence and starts throwing strikes again.