MINNEAPOLIS — For all of the statistical and scouting analysis that so thoroughly permeates baseball, there remain occasions, it seems, when it’s impossible to explain why something happens.
Consider the case of former Seattle Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen, who entered the weekend on a run of 11? scoreless innings over his past nine appearances. He had 13 strikeouts over that span.
That “why” comes in two parts, and the first part … well, that’s easily explained.
“He’s throwing more strikes,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “I just think (it stems from) the fact he’s in the zone a lot more and not working behind in the count as often. He’s got a lot of weapons, plus he throws 97 (mph).
“When you’re behind in the count, and you’re forced to use the fastball … hitters don’t care how hard you throw if they know it’s coming. The fact that he’s throwing more strikes early is making him a lot more effective.”
Wilhelmsen is throwing strikes on 65 percent of his pitches over his scoreless run. Contrast that with his first nine outings, when it was just 51 percent — and he gave up six runs (five earned) in 9? innings.
Now, the second part: Why is he throwing more strikes? Did he tweak something in his delivery? Change his approach? Shift emphasis in his repertoire of pitches?
“No…,” Wilhelmsen said. “I’m just trying to get ahead of guys. It’s the same (approach). It’s just falling in the zone a little bit better, I guess. I’ll take it.”