Going into this weekend’s three-game series with the Miami Marlins in Washington, D.C., Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez hadn’t announced the starters for the first two games, though Max Scherzer was confirmed as the starter for the finale on Sunday.
Jon Lester’s return from the Injured List was officially announced via Twitter on Friday, then Martinez confirmed Saturday would be Patrick Corbin’s turn.
“Tomorrow will be Pat Corbin,” Martinez said in his pregame press conference on Friday.
In spite of the southpaw’s struggles early this season, the skipper decided to stick with him, though off days provided an opportunity to give Corbin more time to work between starts.
Corbin gave up 12 hits, seven walks, and 16 runs (15 ER) in his first two outings this season, but he showed signs of a return to form with six scoreless in start No. 3, before taking one step back in his fourth turn in the rotation, a four-inning, 79-pitch appearance in which he gave up seven hits, three walks, and four earned runs before he was lifted.
“It’s tough, it’s been frustrating,” Corbin acknowledged of his inconsistent outings early this year.
“But I just got to continue going out there, throwing my bullpens, getting reps as much as I can. Physically I feel fine, so yeah, that would be it.”
“I mean, the results — it’s frustrating, but you just try to learn from it,” he added. “It’s just tough not being able to go out there and do my job.
“Going four innings, not being able to finish that fifth there ... so, you just try to look back on those things, but also you’ve got to just continue to do your work in-between and try to turn things around.”
Corbin tossed 5 1⁄3 scoreless innings to start his follow-up to that rough outing yesterday, before Jesús Aguilar hit a center-cut first-pitch fastball out to left for a solo home run that made it 7-1 Nationals in the sixth, but the left-handed starter held the Fish there through six, and he came back out for the top of the seventh and gave up walk, a double, and a run on a sac fly, 7-2, before finishing the inning.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 93 P, 62 S, 10/2 GO/FO.
“I think he was just pumping strikes, both sides of the plate,” Davey Martinez said of the left-hander’s success in what ended up a 7-2 win.
“His fastball command was really good,” Martinez added, “... so when he can command both sides of the plate like that — his balls were moving. His two-seamer was good, the velo was up, but he commanded the strike zone today.”
Corbin said he felt like he’s turned a page.
“I’ve felt good physically this whole time, just kind of had a couple outings there things got frustrated, really wasn’t being my self, and I just got to continue to work on repeating my delivery and things like that,” the 31-year-old southpaw said.
“I think that’s a big thing. I didn’t think I was using my lower half as well as I had in the past, and really finishing some pitches, so that’s been a big focus and just try to continue to work on that.”
Corbin, who’s averaged 90.6 MPH with his sinker, and 90.8 MPH with his four-seam fastball this season, was up a tick to 91.3 and 91.5 MPH average, respectively vs the Marlins, and he said his focus on his mechanics and making better use of his lower half helped.
“I think so,” he said. “Kind of using what you’ve got. I feel like I was — the way I was pushing off before I just thought wasn’t the most ideal way. Kind of standing up tall is kind of what I thought, and even just kind of watching some video I was finishing tall and it was just something I wanted to be strong and stay over my legs and use my lower half, and that was just one thing that I was really focusing on leading up to this start and trying to get back to what I was doing in 2019.”