Patrick Corbin struggled in his final regular season outing, giving up seven hits, two walks, and six earned runs in 4 1⁄3 innings against the Cleveland Indians in what ended up being a 10-7 win for Washington’s Nationals, in which the 30-year-old lefty received no decision.
Going into his final start of the 2019 campaign, however, Corbin was on a roll, with a 2.64 ERA, 27 walks, 71 Ks, and a .212/.296/.365 line against in 61 1⁄3 IP in the final two months of the first year of the 6-year/$140M the southpaw signed with the Nationals last December.
Last night, Corbin was going up against the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second time in 2019 after tossing seven scoreless in Dodger Stadium back in May in a 6-0 win in which he gave up three hits and four walks while striking out eight of the 27 batters he faced in a 107-pitch start.
“He dealt tonight,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after that outing. “It was good to see, but typical, I mean, he’s been pitching really well.”
A lot of the success, Corbin’s manager added, was tied to the left-hander pounding hitters inside.
“He attacks the strike zone and he pitches in,” Martinez explained. “He threw a lot of balls in today, which was really good, and he kept them off-balance.”
“He’s fastball, slider, and that’s to the lefty, righty,” Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts said in discussing Corbin’s strengths on Wednesday, as both teams prepared for the NLDS.
“And if we can keep him in the strike zone, it increases our opportunities,” Roberts added, “but if we’re chasing below the zone, then it’s going to be a long day for us. He’s having a very good year.”
Roberts’ team didn’t chase in the first, and Corbin was wild, walking four batters in his first inning of work, with the fourth forcing in a run that put the Nationals behind 1-0 early, but he managed to limit the damage, though he did throw 31 pitches in the first.
Corbin was up to 58 after a 1-2-3 third, with five Ks from the first 14 batters he faced, and he worked around back-to-back singles that started the Dodgers’ fourth, stranding the runners at first and third with three straight outs after the hits.
His fifth walk of the night came around to score in the sixth, however, with the two-out free pass to Cody Bellinger and a single by Chris Taylor putting runners on the corners in front of Max Muncy, who sent a grounder through Howie Kendrick at first (E:3), to bring in a run before Taylor was thrown out trying to score from first base, 2-0.
Corbin came back out for the sixth at 98 pitches and retired the side in order in a nine-pitch frame that ended his first career postseason start, and the Nationals never got much going, losing 6-0 in the series opener.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 5 BB, 9 Ks, 107 P, 62 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
“This is a guy that presents a lot of pitches as strikes and they go out of the strike zone, namely his slider,” Roberts said after the Dodgers’ win.
“So for us to -- that first inning was the game. And I understand that to Patrick’s credit to stay in the game and give that club six innings was huge for them. But that first inning to get 30 pitches and to get him at 50, something like that, through two, was big for our guys. That really set the tone.”
“After that first inning he was dynamite,” Martinez said. “In the first inning I think he got a little amped up. His front side was opening up a little bit and he couldn’t get the ball. He was spiking a lot -- when he starts spiking his sliders like that, I mean really bad, and his fastball’s just running all over, it’s usually because he’s opening up. He did the first inning and then he settled down. Man, he was really good there for a while. We get to Game 5, hopefully we’ll have Pat again. But he pitched really well after the first inning.”
Corbin got 13 swinging strikes total from the Dodgers’ hitters, nine with his slider, and 16 called strikes on the night, but the long first, and the walks hurt him and the Nationals.
“I felt fine,” he said when asked about the first inning struggles.
“Just kind of I felt mechanically I was rushing a little bit, just kind of was cutting my fastball and I felt later on was able to get back to my sinker, and everything else felt pretty good after that.”
Was he able to get them to chase the slider more in his previous outings? Or what were the Dodgers able to do last night?
“I thought later in the game they were trying to lay off that slider a little bit more and snuck a couple fastballs by them there later, but ... they’re tough, even their lefties are tough, you just got to make quality throughout, and they get guys off the bench too as well, so it’s a deep ballclub.”
“I don’t know,” Corbin said, “... you just try to make quality pitches against them really, I thought we were able to do that, after six, being down by two, just keeping us in the game, our offense has come back from bigger deficits than that. The guys are going to be fine, we’ll come back tomorrow and be ready to go, and we’ve got to win three still, they’ve got to win two more.”
His thoughts overall on what was his first career postseason start? Did it feel any different from any other start?
“I don’t know, I want to say it didn’t,” Corbin said. “I felt good. It was fun to go out there, these are games you want to pitch in, you want the ball, just tonight didn’t work out for us.”