Patrick Corbin finished up his 120-pitch, complete-game shutout of the Miami Marlins on May 25th with a 2.85 ERA on the season, but three rough starts later, the 29-year-old left-hander had a 4.11 ERA after going (0-3) with an 11.37 ERA, seven walks, 13 Ks, and a brutal .379/.433/.638 line against in 12 2⁄3 IP in those outings.
“It’s location,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said after Corbin gave up six hits and seven runs in five innings against the White Sox in Chicago last week. “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.”
Martinez said they would use the time between starts to work with Corbin and figure out what was leading to the issues he experienced in his recent outings.
“He’s got an extra day,” the second-year manager explained. “We’re going to get him back out there and I know I talked to [Pitching Coach] Paul [Menhart] and they’re going to try to work on some things with him and see if we can get him back on track.”
After the series finale with the Arizona Diamondbacks this past Sunday, Martinez was asked if they’d made any progress in the intervening days.
“I went out and watched him throw his bullpen the other day,” he said, “... and he threw really well, and we worked on his direction a little bit, and talked to him about it, and he threw the ball really well, and down, and for me the key with him is locating his fastball down and he did that.”
Corbin left a two-strike slider up for Scott Kingery in the first inning of Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies in the nation’s capital, and gave up a two-out home run to left, 1-0, but he settled in and found a groove after that, and after he struck out the side in the top of the fourth, the left-hander was up to seven Ks total with strikeouts from seven of the last eight batters he’d faced.
The lefty ended up giving up just one run on four hits in seven innings, wrapping things up with a 14-pitch, 1-2-3 seventh which left him at 101 pitches overall, and he exited the game with the Nationals ahead, 3-1, in what ended up a 6-2 win.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 Ks, 1 HR, 101 P, 63 S, 9/1 GO/FO.
Corbin, according to Brooksbaseball.net, threw 40 two-seam fastballs, 26 for strikes (65%), and 15 four-seamers, 10 for strikes (66.7%), and he generated 11 swinging strikes on the 35 sliders he threw overall, according to BaseballSavant.com, 20 of them strikes (57.1%).
“He was jacked up,” Martinez said after the win. “He’s two days biting at the bit and he gets out there and pitches and he pitched really well.”
Martinez was really happy with the way Corbin threw his fastball for strikes.
“Absolutely,” he said. “And his fastball was coming out, and he used his fastball quite a bit today, which is kind of nice. But he had a good fastball, location was, to me, the key.
“Threw the ball down, threw the ball up when he wanted to, but his location was really good.”
The work they did to straighten out his mechanics and keep Corbin more north/south, paid off as well.
“Absolutely,” Martinez said. “And he felt really good. So, he’s got an extra day in-between now and let’s keep him going that way.”
“I was able to make quicker adjustments today on some fastballs and get back into the zone,” Corbin explained, “and [that’s] something that I’ve always done throughout my career, just the last couple have kind of been off a little bit, but I really felt strong today throughout the course of the game, and the couple that I did miss with I felt it right away and was able to get back on line.”
“The last three have been pretty frustrating, so you’ve just got to continue to work,” Corbin added.
“There are ups and downs throughout the course of the year. I felt good with what we were doing, just wanted to continue doing it. And it was great to see some results out there.
“I thought we worked well today with Yan [Gomes], fastball felt good, we threw some up in the zone, and changed eye-level there, and threw some changeups, good breaking balls and just kind of had a good mix today.”
Corbin led the way, and the offense provided him with plenty of support.
“We followed Corbin’s heartbeat,” Martinez said.
“Great first win today,” Corbin told reporters.
“It’s been — the last couple days have been pretty frustrating not being able to play, so it’s good to just come in, see some good weather and face these guys. We’ve got the Phillies and the Braves coming in next, two really good teams, so it’s good to start with a win.”