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The Tom Wilhelmsen Signature Pitch

Starting pitchers can have signature pitches. Clayton Kershaw has his curveball. Cole Hamels has his changeup. Felix Hernandez has each one of his individual pitches, according to Felix Hernandez. Closers can also have signature pitches. Mariano Rivera has his cutter. John Axford has his curveball. The pitchers who don't have signature pitches are middle relievers and setup men, who are basically middle relievers. This is because people don't really care about middle relievers, no matter what pitches they throw.

Not too long ago, Tom Wilhelmsen was a middle reliever, supporting Brandon League while some shred of him surely secretly hoped that Brandon League would fail. As a middle reliever, Wilhelmsen threw a lightning fastball and a pyroclastic curve, which doesn't make any sense but which sounds really good. League failed, Wilhelmsen moved into his role, and while Wilhelmsen throws the same pitches, now they matter more. Now those pitches might be the last pitches you see in any given game. Now one might be inclined to give those pitches nicknames. Or at least one of them.

Tom Wilhelmsen's curveball is his signature pitch. Everybody's aware of it these days. Wilhelmsen joins a list of Mariners closers with signature pitches. J.J. Putz had his splitter, Kazuhiro Sasaki had his forkball, Bobby Ayala had his aw-shit straightball. Wilhelmsen's curve doesn't generate as many swings and misses when it's going well as Brandon League's splitter, but it's still a difficult pitch to hit, and it's a difficult pitch to swing at in the first place. There's something that stirs us when a batter swings and misses at a breaking ball. There's something that stirs us when a batter helplessly watches a breaking ball glide by. What a swinging strike says to the audience is "that batter just got fooled." What a called strike says to the audience is "that batter just got fooled even worse."

Tom Wilhelmsen has this curveball that makes hitters look foolish, and while on some level it's too bad that Brandon League can't close and boost his trade value, that's League's own fault, really, and I'm in love with the present situation. Tom Wilhelmsen is incredible. He's not untouchable, but he's as untouchable as a mortal can be before he's considered something greater than that. Marc W. has remarked on Twitter a few times that he just wants to sit back and stare at Tom Wilhelmsen's curveball. Yeah, pretty much. Same goes for me, and same, apparently, goes for a lot of opposing hitters.



I don't know if Tom Wilhelmsen was prepared for a chest-bump. Wilhelmsen is sent backwards while Jesus Montero keeps charging forward. Tom Wilhelmsen is the awkwardest celebrator.