In the first year of his 6-year/$140M deal with the Washington Nationals, Patrick Corbin was (14-7) with a 3.25 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 3.12 BB/9, 10.60 K/9, and a .227/.293/.375 line against in his 33 starts and 202 innings pitched in 2019, helping the club win a World Series title, but in a less-than-stellar follow-up for the lefty and the team in 2020, the 31-year-old starter finished up with a (2-7) record in 11 outings, over which he posted a 4.66 ERA, a 4.17 FIP, 2.47 BB/9, 8.22 K/9, and a .308/.349/.489 line against in 65 2⁄3 IP.
“Last year was just frustrating,” Corbin said succinctly in his first interview with reporters in West Palm Beach, FL this spring on Friday morning.
“You want to go out there and compete and yeah, I mean, you look at my numbers, I wasn’t pleased with how it went.”
With a frustrating season and light workload in the 60-game campaign, Corbin said he got to work early this winter as he built up for what will hopefully be a regular spring and a full 162-game schedule in 2021.
“I’m looking forward to just hopefully getting through a normal spring here and working into a full season,” Corbin said. “I was out here in West Palm the whole time. Started throwing a little bit earlier. December 1. I’m usually around Christmas. But haven’t really changed much other than that. Feel pretty good now, I’m just looking forward to being able to build up and have that progression of a couple bullpens and facing live hitters before getting in games.”
Corbin, who started 30+ games in four of his seven big league campaigns before last year, is hoping to hit that mark again, and get back around 200 innings after 2020, and he does not think there will be a limit on how much he throws coming off his real light workload in his second season in D.C.
“I feel like having this spring and being able to build up — I think we’ll have around five starts — maybe take it slower in spring, but I think once the regular season starts, be able to go out there and make every start this season and be able to throw as much as I can, at least that’s what my goal is,” Corbin said.
The combination of a low innings total and poor showing motivated the southpaw when he got back at it early this winter.
“I just kind of wanted to get things going,” he explained.
“Obviously, last year I threw I think around 60 innings, so this year I just wanted to just start a little bit sooner. I started out at like three times a week, and kind of built up from there.
“Nothing too crazy, but just to make sure when Spring [Training] does start you’re ready to go and get on the mound Day 1, and I don’t know, maybe it will be something that I continue to do in the future.”
Was it just the odd stoppage in mid-March and quick ramp-up in July that threw him off? Or was it something mechanical? In hindsight, what did he see in his 2020 outings?
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 his hard-hit% rise (from 38.7% in 2019 to 44.2% in ‘20), while hitters’ average on his sinker went significantly up last year (.378 vs .280), as did 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.
“I don’t know if I really felt great at all last year,” Corbin said. “Hopefully having this normal offseason and normal Spring Training things will come around. I feel pretty good where I’m at right now. I’m excited for that. Last year I think was just a tough year for myself, and just trying to move past that and get ready for a normal year.”
“It was definitely frustrating,” he said of 2020 as a whole. “That was a big reason, another reason, for starting early [this winter], maybe just working on some things.
“I think for me just trying to feel good and go out there and make sure my body is ready to go, and like I said, I think having this normal six weeks here getting ready for the season is definitely going to help.”