Patrick Corbin made two solid starts, against the Mets (7 IP, 3 ER) and the Pirates (7 IP, 2 ER) earlier this month, but he struggled against the Rockies (4 IP, 6 ER), before bouncing back against the Reds on the road in Great American Ball Park (6 2⁄3 IP, 0 ER).
Manager Davey Martinez talked after the outing in Cincinnati about the way the southpaw worked with the Washington Nationals’ 23-year-old catcher Keibert Ruiz in that start.
”We talked after he came out of the game, and he felt really, really good,” Martinez said after what ended up a 3-2 win over the Reds.
“He thought his slider was on, he threw it a lot, he thought he and 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.”
It was a positive outing for Corbin, in a season that hasn’t had too many bright spots for the southpaw, who finished the start in Cincinnati with a 5.92 ERA, a 5.42 FIP, 57 walks, 134 Ks, and a .286/.344/.511 line against in 165 2⁄3 IP on the season, over which he’d given up an NL-high 36 home runs.
“It’s frustrating for Patrick because he didn’t put up the numbers that he wanted to,” overall this season, Martinez said, “... but, as I said earlier, he comes to the ballpark, he’s prepared, and he competes, and you saw that today.”
Corbin talked after that outing about getting on the same page with Ruiz helping with his success against the Reds.
“Yeah, second time that I got to throw to him. You can see the talent that he does have, and he’s still learning a lot of guys here,” Corbin said. “I think I only shook him off a couple times tonight, but for the most part we were in sync together, we went over the game plan. What’s good about him is he wants to learn, he wants to get better, we talked a lot in-between innings kind of just how we were going to approach the hitters coming up, so we had a good game plan going in and he was able to go out there and remember those things and execute it and he did a great job.”
Corbin’s slider was particularly sharp, with 26 swings, 14 swinging strikes, and three called strikes on the pitch against the Reds, but he also recorded eight called strikes on his sinker in that outing, which his manager said was a key to his success.
“That’s huge to me,” Martinez said.
“When his two-seamer down plays, and now he goes one sinker outside to righties and then the slider inside ... so he’s got both sides of the plate covered, and that’s something that we talked to him [about] a lot all season long.”
Martinez paired the two of them up again as Corbin took on the Rockies last night for the second time this month, in Coors Field this time.
“I just want to see them both go out there and work like they did the last outing,” Martinez said before the game.
“They both were on the same page. Like I said, tough task when Corbin’s on to block a lot of those sliders, Ruiz did it very well, and I want to see him continue to do that here today.”
Corbin gave up just two runs on six hits and three walks, striking out nine of the 26 Rockies’ hitters he faced.
He got 33 swings, 18 swinging strikes, and three called strikes with slider in Colorado, and he picked up 12 called strikes with his four-seam fastball this time.
“He threw the ball really well, he just made one mistake,” Martinez said, with the mistake an 0-1 slider up in the zone and over the middle of the plate that Trevor Story hit out to center field, some 475 feet from home for what ended up being the winning run.
The home run was the 37th he’s allowed, the NL’s most as mentioned, and his 1.94 HR/9 on the year is a career-high, and up for 4th straight season. So what will he have to do to keep the ball in the yard in 2022?
“You saw where the balls were,” Martinez said, “the balls have been up. When he gets the ball down that doesn’t happen. for me, he understands that he’s got to pitch down, keep the ball down, anything elevated to him gets hit hard. So, you know, we’re going to continue to talk to him and grill him about just keeping the ball down and pitching down and everything works better when he’s down.”
Corbin said he was happy with the outing overall, thought his slider was sharp, and he said he felt he was able to build on his last few outings.
“I was able to repeat the delivery a little bit better, be around the strike zone, and kind of throw some good fastballs inside,” he said. “Got some quick outs doing that.
“And then being able to finish them with my slider. Overall was pleased with it, kind of just hung a slider there to Story, but that happens sometimes here in this ballpark.”