In back-to-back losses in his previous two outings before Tuesday’s start against Chicago’s White Sox, Nationals’ left-hander Patrick Corbin gave up a total of 16 hits, five walks, and 13 runs, nine earned, taking him from 2.85 ERA to a 3.59 ERA after 13 starts and 80 1⁄3 innings pitched in the first year of the 6-year/$140M contract he signed with Washington over the winter.
“What I noticed, and I talked to [Pitching Coach] Paul [Menhart], his mechanics are a little off right now,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said after Corbin gave up five hits, five walks, and five runs (three earned) in five innings against the San Diego Padres last Thursday.
“It’s causing him to fly open a little bit,” Martinez added, “and I think he knows that, and he was out and he said, ‘Man, I’ve got to start locating my fastball,’ which is true. We’ll get him straightened out, like I said, he’s a veteran guy that’s done this before, we’ll get some work in this week and get him back on track.”
Going up against the White Sox last night in Guaranteed Rate Field, Corbin took the mound with a 2-0 lead, and gave up a two-out double, back-to-back walks, and a grand slam on a 2-0 fastball up in the zone to Welington Castillo. Corbin trailed 4-2 after a 26-pitch first.
Beef salami sandwich, anyone? pic.twitter.com/FhnSOUrQje— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) June 12, 2019
Corbin left a 1-1 fastball up for Eloy Jiménez in the fifth, and the Sox’ outfielder hit it 426 ft to center field for a bomb of a home run that put the home team up 5-2.
Back-to-back doubles in the sixth, both on sliders, put the White Sox up 6-2 and ended the outing for Corbin.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 88 P, 53 S, 2/4 GO/FO.
In his last three starts, Corbin, who threw a complete game, 120-pitch shutout before the three rough outings, has now given up 22 hits (four home runs), seven walks, and 20 runs total, 16 of them earned, over his last 12 2⁄3 innings (11.37 ERA) on the mound.
Martinez said after the 7-5 loss to the White Sox that he didn’t think the recent struggles had anything to do with the heavy workload for Corbin over the first two and a half months.
“No, I talk to him a lot too, and he says that has nothing to do with it. He feels good, he’s just going out there and he’s missing his location,” the second-year skipper said.
“It’s been frustrating these last three starts or so, trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong,” Corbin said on Tuesday night, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“I feel like we’re doing the right stuff in-between. I’ve just got to keep working, continuing to get better and just make better pitches out there.”
“It’s location,” Martinez explained. “It’s falling behind hitters. It was funny today, his fastball was good, he threw some 95, but his location, his location and his slider is just short right now, and it’s effective when it comes over and looks like a strike, and now it’s just short, it’s been short a lot, so you know, he’s got an extra day, we’re going to get him back out there and I know I talked to Paul and they’re going to try to work on some things with him and see if we can get him back on track.”
Asked what he meant when he said Corbin’s slider was “short” right now, Martinez tried to elaborate.
“It could be a couple things,” he said.
“He’s not getting extension. His stride could be shorter or longer than it was before. It’s something that Paul and I are going to look at and talk to him about it and see if we can correct it.”
There have been stretches in the last two starts where he seems to get straightened out, what does the manager see in those moments?
“I can only say that he’s just falling behind hitters and not locating his pitches.”