Mariners recall Wilhelmsen to beef up bullpen

Mariners recall Wilhelmsen to beef up bullpen

NEW YORK -- Looking to bolster a bullpen that struggled for much of the first half, the Mariners recalled veteran right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen from Triple-A Tacoma on Friday to fill the roster opening created when Danny Farquhar was optioned to Tacoma after the final game before the All-Star break on Sunday.

After being sent down to Tacoma on July 4, Wilhelmsen didn't allow a run in four innings over four appearances in Triple-A, with three hits, two walks and two strikeouts. Wilhelmsen, 31, has a 4.68 ERA in 22 appearances with the Mariners this season. A year ago, he was one of their top relievers, with a 2.27 mark in 57 outings.

Wilhelmsen opened the year with a 1.96 ERA in his first 15 games, but then had a 12.15 ERA (nine earned runs in 6 2/3 innings) over his last seven outings before being sent to Tacoma.

Wilhelmsen snares comebacker

Farquhar was optioned back to Tacoma after allowing six hits -- including two home runs -- and two runs in four innings of work in three games during his brief stint back with the club. He has a 6.23 ERA in 25 appearances this season, after posting a 2.66 ERA last year in 66 outings.

A year ago, the Mariners' bullpen had the lowest ERA In the Majors at 2.59. This year, with a 3.81, they are ranked 22nd among the 30 MLB teams, which is a big reason Seattle isn't as successful as last year. The Mariners are 41-48 heading into Friday's series opener at Yankee Stadium.

Manager Lloyd McClendon cited the bullpen as the biggest first-half issue. In addition to the struggles of closer Fernando Rodney, as well as former closers Farquhar and Wilhelmsen, the club traded Brandon Maurer in the offseason, and demoted and then traded Dominic Leone and Yoervis Medina during this season.

"The right-handers in our bullpen that bridged the gap for us last year and kept games close, look, we had to send Farquhar and Wilhelmsen to the Minor Leagues -- Leone, Medina, you can go on and on," McClendon said. "You can talk about our offense, but our offense last year was bad. Our bullpen was outstanding, and we won games because of our bullpen.

"In my opinion, that's been our biggest disappointment to date: the right-handers that we've had to shift in and out of our bullpen to try to win games."

If Wilhelmsen can get back on track, that would be a huge plus. He served a valuable role last year. Rodney continues to work primarily as a setup man, and he has been more effective since Carson Smith took over the closing role in early June.

With lefty Charlie Furbush on the disabled list until the start of their next road trip Thursday in Detroit, the Mariners currently have Joe Beimel, Vidal Nuno and rookie Rule 5 Draft pick David Rollins as left-handed options, along with right-handers Mark Lowe, Wilhelmsen, Rodney and Smith.

"I think we've stabilized, for the most part," McClendon said. "Mark Lowe and Beimel have done a tremendous job for us, stabilizing things down there. Nuno has done a nice job for us. Obviously we need to get Furbush back. He's a big part of that bullpen. For the most part, they're starting to settle in."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.