Start No. 2 of Patrick Corbin’s 2021 campaign began with the left-hander and Washington’s Nationals in a 2-0 hole after the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Nos. 2-3 hitters, Carson Kelly and Eduardo Escobar, hit the eighth and tenth pitches of the game from the Nats’ starter out to right field and left-center field, respectively, in Nationals Park, for back-to-back, one-out solo home runs.
Back-to-back walks followed one out later, and the first of the two D-backs to get on, Nick Ahmed, scored from second on an RBI single by Wyatt Mathisen, 3-0.
It was 4-3 in the Nationals’ favor when Corbin came back out for the second, and gave up two singles around a walk as the D-backs loaded the bases with no one out, and tied it up, after a swinging K from Asdrúbal Cabrera, when Ahmed sent a grounder to second, where Josh Harrison booted it on what looked like a potential DP, 4-4, and 5-4 on another walk in the next at bat, 6-4 on a bases-loaded HBP, and 10-4 on a grand slam by Andrew Young.
Well, that escalated quickly. pic.twitter.com/kF94mfCYwM— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) April 16, 2021
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 2.0 IP, 6 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 3 HRs, 63 P, 35 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
In two starts this season, the 31-year-old southpaw has now given up 12 hits and 16 runs (15 ER) in 6 1⁄3 innings pitched in which he’s now walked seven batters and given up four home runs. He also hit two batters in two innings, after going 65 2⁄3 innings without hitting any in 2020, and hitting just three in 202 IP in 2019.
What’s going on with Corbin? Neither he or Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez was sure in the immediate aftermath of his second rough outing.
“I think I’m still trying to figure it out,” Corbin told reporters on a post game Zoom call after an 11-6 loss in the series opener with Arizona.
“Not really sure,” he said. “Just I can’t really point to one thing really. Looked at some video. I feel okay, so not quite sure there, just trying to move on past this one, continue to work, get on a schedule here and hopefully have some better outcomes.”
“He just — he wasn’t sharp,” Martinez said. “It’s not like him to hit batters. His location was bad. I can’t really pinpoint anything right now on him. His mechanics look like they’re okay. We’re just going to have to dig in a little deeper. I talked to him when I took him out to make sure that he was okay physically, and he said he feels good, he feels like real good, and he told me his legs felt better than they did in his first outing. We’ll dig deeper here in the next couple day, and see what we can see and try to him squared away.”
If they could pinpoint something, Corbin said, that would, of course, make a fix much easier going forward, but right now, they don’t have answers, and there are plenty of questions.
“It would be nice to know if there’s one thing or a couple things, but I’m not quite sure,” the nine-year veteran said.
“I feel alright, I thought my legs — they felt better this start than the previous one under me, so I don’t know, I’ll just continue to work hard and try to get back out there and have better results.”
Martinez said he and his staff would work with Corbin to try to identify what’s not working so they can start to work on a fix.
“We’ll look— I’ll start looking at his pace, maybe he’s getting a little quick, we’ll start looking at all those things, because like I said, I watched mechanically, I watched him and I just watched a little bit now, and it didn’t look like anything was different, so I want to watch — we’ll talk about his spin rate, and see where that’s at tomorrow and all these other things and then we’ll go from there.”
Corbin spent time after his outing watching film too to see if there was something easy he could identify.
“I was just seeing if there was anything mechanically that looked off, maybe not finishing through my pitches, but I don’t know, it’s hard to pick up any of those from one outing. I didn’t see anything too crazy, it looked similar to me,” he said. “Hopefully maybe talk with some guys here tomorrow and just try to see if they saw anything, but yeah, I was trying to see if there was something there that was obvious, but I couldn’t really see anything.”
Was there a time in the past when he struggled and worked his way out of it he can look back to as he searches for a fix now?
“Easier said than done,” Corbin said.
“You try to forget about these,” he said of the bad outings.
“I can’t think of something of the top of my head. But you get back to the simple things, commanding the strike zone, throwing quality pitches, getting ahead of guys, things like that, stick to my strengths.”
Martinez said he didn’t think looking back at bad stretches was a good idea.
“We try — I never dwell on the negatives, I try to look at all the positives. So we’ve got to go back and look at everything he did well for us in ‘19, and go from there, and see if we can get him straightened out. I never want these guys to ever look back to what they’re doing wrong. I want them to look at what they’re doing right and see if we can pick something up.”
“It could be something so minute, you know,” he added, “... that could really change things around for him. We’re going to do everything we can to get him right.”