In his July 7th start on the road in San Diego, Patrick Corbin went sinker-heavy, throwing the pitch 53% of the time, up from around 30% average on the season, using his go-to slider for just 24% of his pitches, down from 35%, but his manager, Davey Martinez, said that was just a matter of going with what was working that day and working with catcher Yan Gomes and what he was calling.
“It was something that was working, him and Yan — Yan was calling it a lot more, sinker was really good, and it worked, successful, you know,” Martinez said, “but when his slider, as we always talk about, when his slider is on, that’s his go-to pitch, but if he can get both sides of the plate, control his sinker down and away, and get that slider down and in, it’s a good combination, it will be tough for hitters to sit on just one pitch.”
All of Corbin’s pitches played up, velo-wise in that outing, which saw him give up seven hits, two walks, and two earned runs in six innings of work in a 15-5 win in Petco Park.
“He felt good,” Martinez said when asked about the uptick, especially with the sinker, which hit 95.6 MPH that night, and averaged 92.5, up +0.7 MPH from his average on the year.
“I know he’s worked really hard on staying in his legs a little more,” the manager added, “and that could be why the tick in velo is up a little bit.”
Going up against the Padres again ten days later, Corbin was back to being slider-heavy, up to 44% in that outing, throwing his four-seam fastball 34% of the time and his sinker just 18% of the time, with all of his pitches once again playing up velo-wise, and on the year, he’s up around where he was back in 2019 in terms of velocity, which Martinez said before last night’s start on the road in Baltimore, is a good sign, even if the results aren’t there for the southpaw halfway into his third season in Washington’s rotation.
“I talked to him,” Martinez told reporters. “He’s thrown the ball well, he really has. There’s been occasions where he knows his missed location or he’s [fallen] behind, but his stuff definitely has improved a lot and does look a lot [like] 2019. I talked to him earlier today about just attacking the strike zone early in counts and [trying] to get ahead, and when he does that his numbers are really, really good, and not be afraid to go try to get a hitter out in three or four pitches. Just keep attacking that strike zone, so when he does that and he throws strikes, he’s definitely tough to hit, especially with the way his stuff has been playing lately.”
Aside from the focus on staying in his legs a little more, is there anything else that Corbin’s changed mechanically as he tries to get back on track that’s had his velocity playing up?
“No, that’s all about his lower half and staying connected, and he’s done a good job on doing that with [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey in the bullpen and working on that, and that’s why I think you’re seeing the velo the way it is.”
Last night in Oriole Park, Corbin’s stuff played up again, with his slider (43%) up an average of 3.1 MPH from his season average, his sinker (29%) up 2.0 MPH, and his four-seamer (24%) up 2.0 MPH as well, with two changeups and two slow curves mixed in, but once again the results were not there, as he gave up five hits and five runs, four earned, in 5 1⁄3 innings in a 6-1 loss.
Corbin retired the first nine batters he faced, before giving up back-to-back doubles and a run to start the fourth.
Another run scored later that inning, and Corbin a solo home run by Pat Valaika in the fifth, and a fourth run scored in the sixth, 4-1, before he was done.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 91 P, 60 S, 8/1 GO/FO.
“Corbin started out well, and then he gave up some hits, gave up a big home run to Valaika there,” Martinez said. “But his velo was really good, he’s throwing the ball well, he’s just not finishing hitters. But he’s throwing the ball well.”
What happened when it started to go wrong for him? “He came out and he got behind a little bit and he threw 32 pitches in one inning,” Martinez explained, “but like I said, he threw — uncharacteristic, he threw a lot of fastballs today, they didn’t chase as many of his sliders. I thought he threw a lot more fastballs than he typically does.”
“I thought my stuff played well tonight,” Corbin told reporters. “It’s just frustrating, you look up, you gave [up] five runs, especially when you feel pretty good. I don’t know. It seems like it’s been happening like that a lot lately, and I’m just trying to break it.”
What does he think went wrong after the third?
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I feel great. I don’t know. It’s just frustrating. I mean, I threw a slider there to Valaika, he put a good swing on it.
“It was down and in there, maybe needed it a little bit lower, but you can always second-guess every pitch, and when the results aren’t there, that’s what you do.”
“You can second-guess a lot of pitches and I mean, the fourth inning there when they got the two doubles to start, they weren’t great pitches, but I’ve also gotten outs on some of those pitches, so you just — like I said, try to be as consistent as you can and continue to work better, but I’ve done this for a while, I’ve had success in the game, and just right now it’s definitely frustrating, it’s tough, but I just got to continue to battle, go out there, compete, and try to put up as many zeroes as I can.”