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Washington Nationals’ 2022 Rotation: Fixing Patrick Corbin

Lefty going into his fourth season in D.C. needs to find consistency…

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

“I felt really good all year,” Patrick Corbin told reporters after his final outing of a frustrating and ultimately disappointing 2021 season in the nation’s capital, which saw the 32-year-old lefty in the third year of his 6-year/$140 deal with Washington put up a 5.82 ERA, a 5.41 FIP, 60 walks, 143 Ks, and a .286/.345/.510 line against in 31 starts and 171 23 innings pitched for the Nationals, over which he gave up 37 home runs, the most by any National League starter, and the second-most in the majors on the year, behind only the Texas Rangers’ Jordan Lyles (38).

“I think maybe last year developed some bad habits that possibly came into this year and took a while to correct,” Corbin said, pointing to his struggles in the follow-up to the Nats’ 2019 World Series run in 2020’s 60-game COVID campaign, “… and was definitely very frustrating, so hopefully a couple of changes that I did, will just continue to try to get better with those things.”

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Corbin finished the 2021 campaign on something of a positive note, showing signs of improvement over his final few outings that gave him confidence that he’d identified some of issues, particularly with his arm slot and release point, and started to finally sort them out.

“I think maybe getting that arm slot back,” Corbin explained, “getting the shape of my pitches back to where it used to be.”

“All year we were kind of looking at the release point was a lot higher, so wasn’t really sure why, I just tried diving into it a little bit, but maybe that just played off some on the shape of my pitches, and kind of suffered from location because of that. I feel good about those last two where I was able to throw [my slider], I just kind of felt back to normal a little bit. Being able to use that slider, and command my fastball to both sides of the plate, and just something small that I kind of thought about and hopefully continue to think about that and use it for games to come.”

“He feels good about himself,” manager Davey Martinez said after Corbin’s final outing of the year. “I think him and [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey, they’ve been working hard on trying to get him consistent and finding out what’s going to keep him consistent. His last three outings were where we need to be, and if he can continue that, and build off of that going into the winter, we’re going to be in good shape next year.”

“The last few starts, 4-5-6 starts, whatever, he’s obviously looked a lot sharper,” teammate Ryan Zimmerman said of Corbin’s stretch run, “… so for him to finish strong and go into the offseason on a positive note, it’s been fun to watch him kind of grind it out these last few starts.”

Washington Nationals v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

While everyone involved acknowledged that the season overall was a disappointment for the southpaw, those final outings for Corbin did provide a confidence boost for the veteran hurler going into the offseason.

“I think as a whole, just look back at these last two and try to be able to repeat that,” Corbin reiterated, “but I do feel good. I was just looking at some swings that some good hitters had gotten off of me.

“It’s stuff that I have had in the past, so just pleased with how the last two outings went, and excited about that.”