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Washington Nationals’ Patrick Corbin wraps up frustrating 2021 campaign

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There was a possibility that Patrick Corbin would pitch on Sunday, but it’s not going to happen...

Washington Nationals v Colorado Rockies Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Talking after Tuesday night’s game, a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies in which lefty Patrick Corbin went six innings in Coors Field, giving up six hits, three walks, and two earned runs, Washington Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said he would talk to the starter, and see if a final start in the season finale this Sunday was a possibility.

“We’ll talk to him,” Martinez told reporters. “I’m going to talk to him tomorrow and see how he feels, but like I said, we’ll determine that once I talk to him.”

If the outing against the Rockies was it for the 32-year-old southpaw, and his third season of a 6-year/$140M deal with the Nationals, Martinez said, it was a positive note to end on, in an otherwise forgettable campaign for Corbin, who finished the night on Tuesday with a career worst 5.82 ERA, a 5.66 FIP, 60 walks (3.15 BB/9), 143 Ks (7.50 K/9), and a .286/.345/.510 line against in 31 starts and 172 23 innings pitched, over which he gave up an NL-high 37 home runs (for a career-high 1.94 HR/9).

For all his well-documented struggles, Corbin worked hard to sort things out, and in his last few outings he thought he found things that could translate into more success on the hill in 2022.

“Absolutely,” Martinez said. “He feels good about himself. I think him and [Pitching Coach Jim] Hickey, they’ve been working hard on trying to get him consistent and finding out what’s going to keep him consistent. His last three outings were where we need to be, and if he can continue that, and build off of that going into the winter, we’re going to be in good shape next year.”

Corbin said in his final outing he, “... was able to repeat the delivery a little bit better,” and, “be around the strike zone, and kind of throw some good fastballs inside, got some quick outs doing that,” and he was, “able to finish them with my slider,” all positive signs in his own estimation.

His ability to repeat his delivery was one of the keys to his success in his last few outings according to the starter.

“Yeah, I think maybe getting that arm slot back, getting the shape of my pitches back to where it used to be,” he explained.

“Like I said, I felt really good all year, I think maybe last year developed some bad habits that possibly came into this year and took a while to correct, and was definitely very frustrating, so hopefully a couple of changes that I did, will just continue to try to get better with those things.”

Were the bad habits he developed related to his arm slot and mechanics?

“Maybe,” Corbin said. “I know all year we were kind of looking at — the release point was a lot higher, so wasn’t really sure why, I just tried diving into it a little bit, but maybe that just played off some on the shape of my pitches, and kind of suffered from location because of that. I feel good about those last two where I was able to throw it, I just kind of felt back to normal a little bit. Being able to use that slider, and command my fastball to both sides of the plate, and just something small that I kind of thought about and hopefully continue to think about that and use it for games to come.”

As of Tuesday night’s post game Zoom calls, Corbin still didn’t know if the start against the Rockies would be his last of 2021.

“I think I’ll probably talk to [Davey] tomorrow and see how I feel,” Corbin said. “I made only [11 starts in 2020], to 30+ starts this season, so that was a big jump, and obviously we’re not where we want to be at this point in the season, but I do feel good, and I think the most important thing is to make sure that I’m 100% coming into next season, next Spring Training, so I’ll talk to Davey tomorrow I’m sure and kind of see what we’re going to do.”

When Martinez talked to reporters in advance of the series finale in Coors Field, he said that they made a decision and Tuesday’s start was Corbin’s last this season.

“I have talked to Patrick today, and you saw Patrick make his last start yesterday,” Martinez said. “He’s got a little blister going on with his finger and I don’t want to push it. I told him, I said, ‘Hey, you ended off on a positive, I though you pitched really well, and let’s get to the offseason and continue to work and get ready for next year.”