After two starts in which he seemed to make some progress in what has been a frustrating season for the 32-year-old lefty, Patrick Corbin took a step back going up against Colorado in the nation’s capital last time out before he faced the Cincinnati Reds last night, giving up a total of ten hits (two home runs), three walks, and six earned runs in just four innings.
“I wanted to continue to build off my last couple,” Corbin said. “Thought I was pretty good.
“Today — it was kind of the opposite,” he continued. “But just — going to throw a couple more good bullpens this season, hopefully I think I have two more starts, and hopefully finish those games strong, but I think more importantly end the year healthy and hopefully on a good note to go into the offseason, and kind of get over what happened this year.
“Personally, it’s been not very good, so yeah...”
His plan for the offseason work?
“I don’t know,” Corbin said. “I think a big key is looking back at some years when you’ve had some success. I know I only have a couple starts left here, but probably something in the offseason where if I can try to get back to where I was in ‘18 and ‘19, and try to get my delivery to look as similar to that, that’s when I had really good results, so like I said, I feel good, just maybe something is a little off here that we’re still trying to figure out.”
Corbin’s manager, Davey Martinez, said before Corbin’s start last night in Great American Ball Park, that he and pitching coach Jim Hickey would have a plan for the southpaw this winter, as he prepares for the fourth year of his 6-year/$140M deal with the Nationals.
“I’ll talk to him here in the next week or so, but for me it’s very simple,” Martinez said.
“‘Hey, don’t pick up a baseball. Wait a month or so before you start tinkering around. Just take your time, and then when you get after it, know the changes you want to make, and then start working on them.’
“I know he wants to get stronger, and he’s a bulldog. He works out religiously in the weight room, gets his arm strong. So just come back and tweak some things, I know him and Hickey they’re going to have a game plan this winter. Hickey is definitely involved in all those guys and their winter programs, so he’s going to constantly communicate with them and see where he’s at.
“The big thing with us and Hickey is that he wants to watch video of these guys throwing, all year long. When they pick up a ball, we’re going to get videos of these guys, whether they do it themselves, video themselves, or get somebody to video them, but we want to keep eyes on what they’re doing, and how they’re progressing over the winter.”
In spite of his struggles in 2020’s 60-game campaign and again this season, after he helped the Nationals win it all in the first year of his contract, Martinez said that Corbin has handled it all well, and stayed positive as he can throughout the season.
“He’s been great, he really has. He hasn’t changed a bit,” Martinez said. “Whether he wins a game or loses a game, he’s the same guy. He’s trying to get better for himself, but he’s also communicating with the young pitchers on what he sees. I saw him the other day sitting in with Josh Rogers watching video during the game.
“He was sitting in there, had a great conversation about his performance, so it’s awesome to see Patrick do that.
“And that’s a testament to Patrick. He gets it. Obviously it’s been a frustrating year for him numbers-wise, but he’s a player, he’s engaged, he wants to help the younger players out, and he’s been there day in, day out, with all the young pitchers, and even the relief pitchers, so I love Patrick, and I know that Patrick — he’s going to turn it around, he knows he’s got work to do this winter, and he’s going to come back ready to go.”
On the mound in Great American Ball Park last night, Corbin threw 6 2⁄3 scoreless, giving up four hits and four walks in a 99-pitch outing in which he struck out 7 of 27 batters he faced, with a sharp slider he got 26 swings and 14 whiffs on, along with three called strikes and he picked up eight called strikes with his sinker as well, which is kind of vintage Corbin, and an example of what he can still do when he’s on.
”We talked after he came out of the game, and he felt really, really good,” Martinez said after the 7-5 win over the Reds. “He thought his slider was on, he threw it a lot, he thought he and [catcher Keibert] Ruiz worked really, really good together tonight, which was also awesome to see. You know, it’s not easy.
“We talk about Keibert, it’s not easy for him to block those balls, and he did a good job tonight, he really did.
“So, like I said before, it’s frustrating for Patrick because he didn’t put up the numbers that he wanted to [this season], but, as I said earlier, he comes to the ballpark, he’s prepared, and he competes, and you saw that today.”
“It was pretty good,” Corbin said. “We worked on a couple things in my bullpen, and kind of just every day when I was throwing, just trying to maybe repeat the delivery a lot better, kind of be staying over my legs a little bit more and just trying to throw some more strikes, quality strikes, and I thought today worked well.
“I know I had the four walks, but I would say that I was kind of wild, I thought I was around the plate, able to throw everything consistent with my slider. So just a good step that hopefully I can finish this season off with another good one and take it into next year.”
Asked about his manager’s suggestion that he not pick up a ball for a month once he gets through this season, Corbin said, “I’ll probably maybe take a little bit longer than that.”
“It’s just been — obviously the numbers have been terrible, but I’ve felt good all season, just trying to look at some positives and try to build off that is really all I can do. I’m not going to kind of sit back and look at a lot of those things I did do wrong, but try to focus on things I can do to try to get better, and I thought today was just a good step in that direction, and hopefully continue to do that and make sure next season when I come in I’m ready to go and be able to pitch another full season.”