Getting to the major leagues wasn’t exactly easy for Seattle Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen. After multiple suspensions early in his career for various reasons, Wilhlemsen decided to give up baseball and work as a bartender in Tucson, Az.
However, Wilhelmsen was given a second chance with the Mariners and he has taken advantage of it. When Brandon League struggled as the closer last season, Wilhelmsen was thrust into the role by manager Eric Wedge.
Some were skeptical of this decision, but Wilhelmsen proved them wrong, converting 29 of his 34 save opportunities and posting a 2.50 ERA in 70 total appearances throughout the 2012 season.
Nicknamed “The Bartender” by Mariners broadcaster Dave Sims, Wilhelmsen has continued to be successful in the 2013 season, posting an incredible 0.60 ERA in 14 appearances and converting each of his nine save opportunities.
Wedge has shown a lot of confidence in Wilhelmsen this season, using him in the ninth inning over Mariners’ ace Felix Hernandez in three consecutive outings when Hernandez’s pitch count was under 100.
Wilhelmsen has not been just good; the 29-year-old has been dominant though the first part of the 2013 season. With a WHIP of 0.67, Wilhelmsen ranks third among American League relief pitchers and he has stranded 90 percent of the baserunners that have reached base against him.
Even with two prospects labeled as future closers in Carter Capps and Stephen Pryor, Wilhelmsen has still been able to get the job done even with that pressure. The Mariners are going to rely on Wilhlemsen heavily throughout the summer and the team could see great success if he continues to dominate.