• Tom Wilhelmsen had a night to forget yesterday against the Astros, blowing his fourth save of the year. By the time the game was over, Wilehlmsen gave up five earned runs on three hits and two walks. Sure, the relievers who replaced Wilhelmsen could have done a better job with their inherited runners, but it’s also the fifth time in the last eight outings that Wilhelmsen has given up at least one run. Wilhelmsen’s ERA now stands at 3.77 and although his FIP looks more impressive at 3.17, he’s yet to allow a fly ball to go over the wall making his 4.46 xFIP more indicative of how he’s pitching at the moment. Last year Wilhelmsen had a 9.87 K/9 and 10.7 SwStr% and in 2013 those have dipped to 6.59 K/9 with a 9.7% SwStr%.
Wilhelmsen’s velocity isn’t to blame either as he’s averaged 95.9 mph on his fastball, right in line with his career average. However, his control of it (and/or all of his repertoire) sure has changed, with Wilhelmsen putting up a 4.71 BB/9 this year, significantly higher than the 3.29 BB/9 in 2012. After the game, Eric Wedge said that Wilhelmsen is their closer but from listening to the clip, it doesn’t sound like his job is too secure, and they may need to have a “conversation” about it. The problem for the Mariners is there aren’t many great options behind Wilhelmsen to close but I’d say Carter Capps and Charlie Furbush are the best bets. Furbush has turned himself into a stirkeout throwing lefty with an ability to get opposite handed hitters out, but my guess for Wilhelmsen’s replacement would be Capps. Although his numbers aren’t particularly great, the big 6’5” righty can strike guys out (10.93 K/9) with his high 90s heat while showing some solid control (2.25 BB/9). As Wedge said, Wilhelmsen is still closing, but this is certainly a situation worth monitoring and I’d snag Capps if I had an open spot.
• If you give the Cardinals a lead, there is a very high probability that Trevor Rosenthal and Edward Mujica will get the job done and that held true today as Mujica recorded his 19th save of the year against the Mets this afternoon, with the setup from Rosie. Mujica now has a 2.66 FIP with 27 strikeouts against just one walk on the year while Rosenthal has a mere 1.85 FIP and 12.82 K/9. Not too shabby. Rosenthal lost his chance to close after some early season blips and while he’s the better reliever of the two, Mujica is plenty good and has a tight grasp on the role. The Cardinals bullpen as a whole isn’t the best with the fourth worst ERA in the NL but the back of their bullpen won’t be blowing many leads this year.
• 18 innings later, the A’s finally beat the Yankees with a walk-off single by none other than the legend Nate Freiman off of the back of the bullpen guy, Mariano Rivera. This isn’t necessarily news worthy, but it’s always nice to know that Mo is human and not an alien sent to earth to close baseball games. With that said, does anyone doubt Mo could do this for another few years? I don’t doubt him being sincere and retiring as he says after this season but I also don’t doubt the NY media will come up with a few headline grabs putting that in question.
• Rafael Soriano untucked his shirt for the 17th time this year today. I’m sure he’s actually untucked his shirt at least a dozen or so times in addition to his saves, but he’s on record with 17 untucks in 2013. Soriano’s seen a slight decrease in velocity this year with a 91 mph fastball, down from 92.3 mph last year but he averaged 92.3 mph on his fastball in today’s game and seems to be heading in positive direction in that area. Whether intentional or not, Soriano’s traded in some strikeouts for fewer walks and it’s led to another solid season with a 2.42 ERA and 3.03 FIP. Soriano won’t blow anyone away with his velocity or strikeout totals, but he’s been pretty steady in the ninth for the past season plus, and I’d expect it to continue.
[Green light, yellow light, red light: the colors represent the volatility of the bullpen order.]