Like a number of other pitchers around the league in this 60-game campaign, Nationals’ lefty Patrick Corbin’s velocity hasn’t been where he’s used to it sitting early this season.
Corbin waited out the layoff after Major League Baseball shut Spring Training down in mid-March and he ramped up quickly in Spring Training 2.0 in July, but he’s not quite where he should be right now.
“Obviously it’s not like where I was towards the end of last season where your arm is built up,” Corbin told reporters after his six-inning outing against the New York Mets last week.
“But I think it’s — I mean, we’re still building up, and I think when you come out and you’re feeling good, I think that’s going to come eventually.
“That’s why I think location right now is just such an important role, being able to do that.”
Corbin’s sinker (89.5 MPH) and four-seam fastball (89.6) are down some (from 91.8 in 2019) in terms of velocity, but his slider (78.7 MPH average down from 81.7) had perplexed hitters, who’d put up just a .143 AVG on the pitch in 2020 heading into last night’s game.
“When I can look up and see my slider is around the speed it normally is, I know everything is fine, and I just think the more and more we get out there, the more innings I get under my belt, get in a routine, things will get back to normal and I think that’s with a lot of guys here.
“We had such a long layoff and everybody was doing different things, so it’s going to be different for everybody.”
Corbin’s fourth start of the 2020 season started with two Orioles’ batters, José Iglesias and Pedro Severino, doubling on sliders from the left-hander, who’d issued a one-out walk, and allowed two runs in what ended up being a 28-pitch bottom of the first.
Two more scored in Corbin’s second inning of work, with a single, triple, and sac fly giving the O’s a 4-0 lead, and after a Juan Soto blast made it 4-2 in the Orioles’ favor, Rio Ruiz hit another slider out to right field for a leadoff blast in the home half of the fourth, 5-2 O’s.
Corbin held it there, and Trea Turner homered in the top of the sixth to make it a two-run game before Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez went to the bullpen...
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 61 S, 6/2 GO/FO.
Corbin acknowledged, after what ended up a 7-3 loss, that he just didn’t have command of his slider, and wasn’t able to put hitters away.
“I actually felt alright, just was falling behind guys and not being able to finish tonight was really what was going on,” the 31-year-old starter said. “It seemed like from the start of the game until I was done, they had some long at bats. Wasn’t able to put guys away, and just one of those nights where things weren’t really working for me.”
“I thought his slider wasn’t as sharp as it normally is,” Manager Davey Martinez said of his left-handed starter versus the Orioles.
“I mean, he threw, it was just up. When he tried to get it down, he threw it too far down.
“He got behind and left some balls up, other than that, my biggest thing is I asked him if he’s okay, and he mentioned that this is the best he’s felt all year. So that’s good, but he was just — his location was not good today, he battle through five innings, pitch count got up and we had to get him out of there.”
The home run by Ruiz, just after Soto made it a two-run game, seemed like it turned the tide in the Orioles’ favor.
“Just was a hanging slider,” Corbin said of the 1-1 slider to Ruiz that went out to right. “Just didn’t — I threw one first pitch located it well, I thought — my slider was just a tad up [from where] it normally is, just wasn’t missing by much, but was allowing them to put the bat on the ball, and first inning gave up that one big hit with two outs there, just a slider that was up, and the same on that one, just didn’t have the bite that it normally has.”