The Wilhelmsen developments are not as interesting as Maurer’s (well, from a Mariner fan perspective), but necessary to examine nevertheless.
Then a five-pitch walk to Casey McGehee. An out at that spot would have made a big difference. But Wilhelmsen was “careful” — not wanting to give up the big hit — and it didn’t work.
And there’s what we see with Wilhelmsen now. He still throws extremely hard (over 95), but he seems to have lost just enough confidence in his ability to blow by hitters, that he’s reluctant to throw strikes.
At least that’s what seems to be happening from the data (his K-rate is dropping, his BB-rate climbing, his ISO-against creeping up past MLB average toward .200 — which is punching-bag level).
Here’s what we can see happening in the velocity (kind of squished things together so it would show up better):
You can see that while the velocity is still high, it’s definitely a couple of ticks below what is was in 2012 and 2013. He doesn’t seem to have that ability to ramp it up to 98.
And with that seems to be a lost willingness to throw in the zone. Fangraphs reports Wilhelmsen has dropped from 51% in the zone in 2012 to 40% in 2014. He seems fixated on keeping everything down and away, as we can see in his strike zone plots:
The real question, then, is why Lloyd McClendon is still putting Wilhelmsen it these situations.
True, if Justin Smoak had gunned down the runner at the plate (video link) the Barkeep might have survived, but it seems that McClendon is maybe blinded by the radar gun and not focused on who will actually get outs.
Unfortunately, we’re looking at a downward trajectory on Wilhelmsen at the moment.