The first year of Patrick Corbin’s six-year/$140M deal with the Washington Nationals ended with the left-hander tossing three scoreless innings in relief in Game 7 of the World Series, which the Nats won. Corbin’s second season in D.C. ended in disappointment as the club limped to a 24-36 finish in the 60-game 2020 campaign and missed out on the postseason altogether after winning it all in 2019.
Looking back on the second year of his contract with the Nationals, immediately after he’d completed the season with a (2-7) record in 11 starts, over which he’d put up a 4.66 ERA, a 4.17 FIP, 18 walks (2.47 BB/9), 60 Ks (8.22 K/9), and a .308/.349/.489 line against in 65 2⁄3 IP, (after he posted a 3.25 ERA, a 3.49 FIP, 3.12 BB/9, 10.60 K/9, and .227/.293/.375 line against in 33 starts and 202 IP in ‘19), the lefty said things clearly did not go how he or teammates in the nation’s capital wanted it to go.
Patrick Corbin, Filthy 82mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/wCNWF6lgO8— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 26, 2020
“Obviously I think a lot of us would have wanted things to have gone differently,” the 31-year-old southpaw said, “... but you try to look at some positives, and finishing on a strong note, and ending this season healthy was definitely a big thing for me. So ... just going to hopefully prepare for a normal offseason and a normal spring next year, and get ready for next season.”
Corbin went winless in his final eight outings (0-7, with a 5.48 ERA and .338/.381/.541 line against in 47 2⁄3 IP over that stretch), so the fact that he was calling a seven-inning start in his final appearance, which saw him give up 10 hits and 3 ER in a 3-2 loss to the New York Mets, a positive finish, says a lot about how things went in 2020 overall.
The 85 total hits Corbin allowed on the season were the most in the majors in the truncated campaign, and the eight-year veteran saw opposing hitters’ exit velocity go up (90.7 MPH —up from 89.9 in ‘19), and his hard-hit% rise (from 38.7% in ‘19 to 44.2% in ‘20), while hitters’ average on his sinker was significantly up (.378 vs .280), as was the average against his four-seamer fastball (.415 from .232), with the BAA on his slider (.198 in ‘20 vs .158 in ‘19) up, but a bit less dramatically.
Hitters had a .240 AVG on his changeup, down from .370 in 2019, and a .429 AVG on his curveball, up from .214, though they accounted for just 7.7% of the pitches he threw this season between the two of his five offerings.
“He struggled with his location at times, he has mentioned that,” manager Davey Martinez said before Corbin’s final 2020 outing.
Patrick Corbin, Wicked 81mph Slider...and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/8HpMAF1QSK— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) September 12, 2020
“He said his sinker sometimes didn’t sink, it just flattened out, trying to go in,” Martinez said.
“This is something that he knows coming into next year. He is going to be fine. His slider is his go-to pitch.
“He threw it, he threw it well, so I think the rest with him is going to help him out a lot.”
Corbin told reporters that he was hoping for a return to some sense of normalcy in 2021 after the late start, COVID restrictions, and all the testing/safety protocols in 2020.
“I just — maybe all year the ball just wasn’t coming out as it normally does,” he explained, “... and not really sure why that was. So, I just want to go into next year, hopefully, like I said, a normal season where you’re able to build up, get your arm strength there and be ready to make 33 starts. That’s kind of what I’m looking at, and obviously it’s a disappointment for us this season.”
Having the season start late and end early for the Nationals, Corbin suggested, could be a positive in the end after he and his teammates endured that long run to the Fall Classic in 2019.
“Yeah I mean, we played an extra month last year,” he said.
“I think this year it will help. I mean, we did have a lot of time coming into this year, we had more time than we expected, so like I said, I just hope things are normal going into next season, and we are able to have a normal offseason, normal Spring Training and be ready to go.”