Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin were the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s first and second round picks, respectively, in the 2009 Draft, and they were both traded to Arizona’s D-backs in 2010.
Corbin stayed in Arizona (2012-18), before signing with Washington as a free agent this past winter.
Skaggs pitched for two seasons as part of the Diamondbacks’ rotation before he was traded back to LA as part of a three-team deal with the Chicago White Sox in 2013, and was part of the Angels’ rotation from 2014 through this season.
On Monday morning in Texas, where the Angels were set to play the Rangers, the 27-year-old southpaw was found dead at the team hotel.
The Angels and Rangers’ game last night was postponed.
Corbin, who was close friends with Skaggs, was scheduled to pitch tonight’s series opener with the Miami Marlins, and upset as he was by the news, the lefty decided that he wanted to take the mound.
Corbin also decided to change his jersey number for the night.
“They came up together,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters before the first game of three with the Fish in D.C.
“They were — his best friend, so it’s going to be an emotional day for him. I talked to him. He wants to pitch today. As a matter of fact, he will wear No. 45 on his behalf.”
“He was emotional earlier,” Martinez added, “but he said he wants to pitch.
“He feels like it’s what he needs to do. I told him, ‘Hey, you have the support of myself, your players, your coaches, the organization, and the fans. We’re all behind you, so do what you can.’ We’ll keep an eye on him throughout the game and monitor him throughout the whole game.”
Corbin went seven strong against the Marlins, waiting out a one-hour, 15-minute rain delay in the third and returning to the mound for four more innings before he was done for the night in what ended up a walk-off win for the Nationals.
Corbin kept his emotions in check on the mound, but in his post-game interview he broke down when he was asked about his friendship with Skaggs.
“It’s been hard,” Corbin said. I’ve just been thinking of Tyler, his wife Carli, the family, just, you can’t believe he’s gone, and I’m sure it’s hard for a lot of people.”
He wanted to pitch, he said, for some sort of normalcy in a tough time.
“I think when you have a loss you want to keep things as normal as you can and just try to go out there and do what you have to do and I saw the Angels played today too, so I don’t know, I think it’s best to just go out there and play the game of baseball.”
Asked about the relationship, however, Corbin teared up.
“He was in my wedding this offseason ... sorry ... he’s just all I’m thinking about right now,” Corbin said.
Watch Patrick Corbin's emotional meeting with the media after his gutsy performance a day after the death of his good friend and former teammate, Tyler Skaggs. pic.twitter.com/zx7AG4HltX— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) July 3, 2019