According to news that just came over the Twitter, the bullpen has now officially been finalized. Tom Wilhelmsen has earned a spot on the ' Opening Day roster, while Cesar Jimenez has been outrighted to Tacoma.
The outright means that Jimenez has been removed from the 40-man roster and cleared waivers, allowing him to stick with the organization. So that's good, albeit humbling news for you Cesar Jimenez fans.
But the bigger story here is obviously the ascent of Wilhelmsen, who last year topped out with 44.1 innings with A-ball Clinton. Wilhelmsen is basically making the Rule 5 leap without being a Rule 5 pick, and he's pulling this off because the team has been impressed by the stuff he's thrown this spring. He has a hard fastball, a sharp curve and a reasonable changeup, and while his command is often erratic, there's no question that he's hard to hit when he's on, or almost on.
I don't need to go over Wilhelmsen's history since every other writer who covers the Mariners has already done so (with Baker going first all the way back in early 2010), but this is about as unusual and impressive as a guy's career can get. Sure, Wilhelmsen's previous adversity and absence were of his own doing, but guys don't just walk away from the game at 20 and come back years later to rocket to the Majors. Wilhelmsen's story is absolutely remarkable.
So hopefully Wilhelmsen's ready to strike out at least twice as many guys as he walks. The Opening Day bullpen will be:
David Aardsma will look to return after a month, Shawn Kelley will look to return after about two months, and Dan Cortes will hang out in Tacoma, trying to throw strikes and push his way north. This is a bullpen with more question marks than an inquisitive 12 year old's text message, but the potential is obvious, and if Wilhelmsen and Lueke are able to make the adjustment, we may not literally blow every lead we get in a game.