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Washington Nationals send left-handed specialist Patrick Corbin out in NLCS Game 4

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Patrick Corbin started Game 1 of the NLDS, but his last three appearances have been out of the bullpen. Now Corbin’s back on the mound to start Game 4 of the NLCS.

Patrick Corbin held the Los Angeles Dodgers to two runs (one earned) on three hits over six innings of work on the mound in Dodger Stadium in Game 1 of the NLDS, walking five, with nine Ks, in what ended up being a 107-pitch start in his first career postseason appearance.

His last three trips to the mound have come in a relief role: a disastrous outing in Game 3 with the Dodgers (0.2 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 R), then 1 13 scoreless in Game 5, and one batter he retired in Game 2 of the NLCS.

“During Game 5, he really got a taste of bullpen life,” Sean Doolittle told reporters when he was asked about the Nationals’ $140M LOOGY on Sunday afternoon. “He had warmed up, I think, three times before he went into the game, but then he went in the game, and he was absolutely lights out. His stuff was electric.”

“I did tell Corbin he’s going to have to pitch at some point, I really felt that,” Davey Martinez said on Sunday, when asked about getting the lefty in there for a quick, two-pitch at bat against left-handed hitter Kolten Wong before Nats’ closer Daniel Hudson finished off the ninth.

“And I just was trying to pick the moment that we needed to put him in and we did that.”

“Just kind of happened to work out like that,” Corbin told reporters on Monday, when he too was asked about all the relief work he’s done.

“Just been available,” he continued. “I mean, Game 5 in L.A. was do or die, so just had an opportunity to be in the bullpen, and the other day, same thing. Had a scheduled bullpen that day and just kind of worked out where I was able to face one guy.”

Going into Game 4 of the NLCS, Corbin said he was excited to return to a starting role and go up against a Cardinals’ lineup he faced in mid-September, giving up five hits, four walks, and two runs (both unearned) while striking out 11 of the 28 batters he faced in a 110-pitch outing in Busch Stadium. What, if anything, can he take from that outing and apply to the start tonight?

“I’ll just try to go over film and go over what I did do well and what I didn’t do well,” Corbin said. “At this point, everyone kind of knows what I’ve done. I just need to go out there and execute those pitches. This is a team, they’re a veteran lineup, they’re going to make you work, throw pitches, throw strikes. You just can’t make a mistake to these guys.

“Their pitching over there, the guy going tonight and tomorrow, some young arms that have gotten them to this point. There’s a reason they’re there. I know we’re up 2-0, but we’ve got to treat this game like any other game and try to win tonight.”

Corbin spoke before Stephen Strasburg’s outing against St. Louis on Monday night, but in the first two games, Aníbal Sánchez (7 23 IP, 1 H, 0 ER) and Max Scherzer (7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER) held the Cardinals off the board. What did he see from his rotation mates in those outings?

“Yeah, for both of them, them giving up one hit was pretty impressive on the road,” Corbin said. “Those were two huge games for us to go out there, have our starters go deep in both those games, save the bullpen a little bit. It’s going to be huge going forward. I mean, that lineup over there is a good lineup, and for them to do that is pretty impressive.”

“You don’t expect them to get shut out all the time or held to one run,” he added.

“We just have to make sure that myself and [Stephen Strasburg] tonight are on our game and go out there and compete and see what happens.”

Having worked with Scherzer and Strasburg all season, Corbin said he’s been able to learn from them as he’s learned from some other impressive pitchers in his career.

“It’s always great to have other guys in the rotation who have done it,” he said, “... who have been at this level for a long time. I was able to have Zack Greinke, learned a lot from him in Arizona, and come here and have Max and Stras, guys who have done it. I think what’s good is we all try to help each other. When someone’s out there pitching, we’re all on the bench talking, going over the other team’s lineup, maybe what they see, what they don’t see.

“That’s what’s been so great, being able to discuss what we think, what we don’t think.

“Obviously, Max, everyone knows how intense he is, and a lot of things do work for him, and some people they might not work for. So you just kind of take what you think will help and go from there.”

The first season of his 6-year/$140M deal with the Nats didn’t start well for the team, but Corbin said he and his teammates believed all along that they could get where are now.

“Yeah, you know you hate to say injuries, but we did have some injuries to begin the season,” Corbin said.

“With Trea [Turner] down, [Anthony] Rendon, and [Juan] Soto, we had three big time hitters there. When guys did get back into the lineup, guys were playing their normal positions. I don’t think anyone here changed anything. We just kind of got our guys back. You give credit to Davey never panicking, really never changing anything. We didn’t do more. We didn’t do less. We just continued to do what we did in Spring Training and just built off it.

“You look at the guys in here, they’ve done it. They’ve won a lot of games. We knew it was just going to be a matter of time.”

Corbin takes the mound tonight with a 3-0 lead in the NLCS and a chance to help his team reach the World Series, after Strasburg went seven innings in which he gave up seven hits and one unearned run while striking out 12 of 28 batters in last night’s 8-1 win.