Tom Wilhelmsen out as Mariners closer

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Last night’s soul-crushing loss to the Red Sox resulted in a demotion for Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen. The 29-year-old right-hander entered with a 7-2 lead, seemingly an easy finish to an easy game. He faced four hitters, allowing a walk, a single, a double, and another walk before being lifted. As other Mariner relievers — Oliver Perez and Yoervis Medina — failed to get the job done, Wilhelmsen was charged with four runs, raising his ERA to 4.37. The Red Sox eventually walked off 8-7 winners on Daniel Nava’s 8-7 single to center. As Dave Cameron pointed out on Twitter last night, the Mariners were 99 percent favorites to win, and they lost.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times informs us that Wilhelmsen is now out as the Mariners closer for the foreseeable future.

The team has not named an official interim closer. Interim manager Robby Thompson said, “We’ll try to piece it together and match up. And we’ll go from there.”

Wilhelmsen started off the season in fine fashion, carrying an 0.75 ERA through the end of May. Since June, however, he has an 8.10 ERA with an 18-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 23 and one-third innings. It’s not just Wilhelmen, though. Over the last 30 days, the Mariner bullpen as a whole has a 5.44 ERA, outpaced only by the Astros at 5.83. Demoting Wilhelmsen, while a good idea for the right-hander’s mental health, is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

Bryce Harper will participate in the Home Run Derby if he makes the All-Star team

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Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.

Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.

Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.