The last time Tom Wilhelmsen struggled, the Mariners removed him from the closer role so he could work on things in lower leverage situations. This time, they've decided that he may need situations of even lower leverage.
Take it away, Larry Stone:
Tom Wilhelmsen is heading to Tacoma. No word on who will take his place.— Larry Stone (@StoneLarry) August 6, 2013
Wilhelmsen was packing his gear & hugging teammates after game. "I'm not throwing strikes. It makes sense,'' he said of demotion.— Larry Stone (@StoneLarry) August 6, 2013
No word yet from the club on who The Bartender's replacement will be. There are several candidates, and below are how I'd rank some of them in order of probability:
RHP Carter Capps
Capps was sent down in the middle of July after struggling in Seattle. While he continued to scuffle in his first few outings with the Rainiers, he's improved a bit since. Overall in those 11 innings with Tacoma, he's running a shiny 1.64 ERA while striking out nine and walking four. I personally think he's still got some work to do and would love to see some more consistency. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him on his way back, though, as he's been good lately. I would probably defer to the club's judgement on this one if they feel he's ready.
LHP Brian Moran
Moran is having a nice season for the Rainers. Due to Jesus Montero's suspension, a spot on the 40-man roster was opened up, so the club could opt to give the 24-year-old a shot he may not have otherwise got. No one has to be DFA'd to make this move.
For the second consecutive season, Moran is running a strikeout rate over 12 and a walk rate under three, which kind of defies logic given his soft-tossing stuff. If it were my pick, I think I'd give Moran this shot to join his former UNC teammates in Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager at the big league level. At his age, the M's really should see what they have in Moran now.
RHP Logan Bawcom
Tacoma's primary closer this year, Bawcom has also had a nice campaign. He doesn't have the eye-brow raising appeal that Moran has had, but the club may value the closing thing and go with him. Also, like Moran, he would need to be added to the 40-man roster.
RHP Chance Ruffin
Ruffin was sent to Double-A Jackson earlier this season to become a starter. While he wasn't awful statistically, he wasn't impressive against younger hitters either. Since coming back to Tacoma and resuming his career as a reliever, he's given up nine runs and four walks in 16 innings of work, while striking out 13. The M's would love to see something -- anything -- out of him to help salvage the Doug Fister deal.
Yeah, we've seen how that movie plays out.
RHP Carson Smith
This is probably a longshot since Smith has been at Double-A all season, but he's a guy I like a lot as far as upside goes. I doubt the club reaches down here, since Moran has shown similar stuff at a higher level for two seasons running.