Between May 18th and June 9th, Patrick Corbin made five starts, over which the left-hander had a 6.51 ERA, 12 walks, 19 Ks, and a .327/.393/.449 line against in 26 IP, but he followed up on that rough stretch with his best start of the season, an 8 1⁄3-inning outing on the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he gave up eight hits, one walk, and one earned run, throwing a season-high 110 pitches in an 8-1 win.
So was it the Pirates? Or did Corbin find something in that outing that could help him start to turn around what’s been a disappointing season so far in the southpaw’s third run in D.C.?
“Sometimes you can make this game more difficult than it already is, and for me I’m not up there fooling guys too much,” Corbin said after seemingly finding his swing and miss slider in the outing vs the Bucs and leaning on it.
“They know I throw my slider and I throw it a lot, and why not just continue to do that.”
“It was awesome,” Yan Gomes said of Corbin’s outing against the Pirates in the nation’s capital.
“It was pretty much trying to be as simple as we could, try to simplify the game plan as much as we could and sticking with.
“He did a tremendous job getting ahead, staying ahead. [The Pirates] are in a way a very aggressive team and trying to make quality pitches early was a big factor going into it, and he was doing that, mixing and matching, from two-seamers, four-seamers, changeups, and he did a great job putting guys away as well.”
How would he follow up on that outing?
Corbin took the mound on Sunday in the finale with the New York Mets in Nationals Park, and went six-plus innings, giving up just two runs (both on solo homers) in a 82-pitch, 7-K outing in a 5-2 win.
Daddy Ice. @PatrickCorbin46 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/SiPUUdfzuw— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 20, 2021
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 2 HRs, 82 P, 62 S, 5/5 GO/FO.
Kevin Pillar hit the first of the two home runs Corbin surrendered in the first at bat of the Mets’ second, tying it up at 1-1 after the Nationals jumped out to an early lead (on the 4th leadoff home run by Kyle Schwarber in the last 10 games).
After giving up a two-out single by Francisco Lindor in the top of the third, Corbin retired seven in a row to get through five innings on 66 pitches total, as the Nationals retook the lead, and he returned to the mound with a 3-1 advantage in the sixth and set down three more Mets to make it 10-straight outs and six strong innings on 76 pitches.
The streak of retired batters ended with a solo shot to left by Pete Alonso in the top of the seventh, and a walk in the next at bat brought an abrupt end to Corbin’s outing.
Kyle Finnegan, Tanner Rainey, and Brad Hand followed with a scoreless inning each and the Nationals took 3 of 4 from the NL East-leading Mets.
Corbin got 11 swinging strikes and 10 called strikes with the slider against the Pirates, and though he didn’t get as many of either against the Mets, he and manager Davey Martinez said they thought the pitch was sharp. So did @PitchingNinja:
Patrick Corbin, Filthy 83mph Slider. pic.twitter.com/SDvfjWIel6— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 20, 2021
“I think [it was] one of my better sliders that I’ve had this season,” Corbin said, “being able to throw some good ones in the zone and throw some back foot ones.
“I think the only one that kind of just stayed out over there with two strikes was trying to bury it a bit more was the one to Alonso, but just felt really good with that.
“I thought fastball command was good and one of the strongest I’ve felt throughout the course of a game.”
“It was sharp,” Martinez said of Corbin’s slider, “it was really good.
“When he’s got that going, and hitters have to worry about that ball coming in like that, it makes his two-seam even that much better.
“I’ve seen a lot of swings and misses on his two-seamer, that were out on the outside of the plate, and that’s because of his slider, how sharp it was. He had a great day.”
“He did exactly what he needed to do today.”
And on the opposing side? What did Mets’ hitters see? Pillar, who went 1 for 2 with the home run and a walk off Corbin, said he wasn’t the same pitcher he’d seen in previous seasons, but Corbin was still effective.
“He’s pretty good,” Pillar told reporters. “He’s obviously not the same guy he used to be, but he still has good pitchability, he was able to sink the ball, he still has a great slider, guys like him that don’t necessarily have their great stuff anymore that still know how to pitch can still be difficult at bats. A guy like him, he’s not going to overwhelm you with stuff right now, but you got to stay super-disciplined with your approach.”