“I feel like my stuff is still there,” Patrick Corbin lamented when left once again searching for answers after giving up six runs for the third time in four outings in a 12-6 loss to the Phillies on August 31st in the nation’s capital.
“Maybe I’m making more mistakes,” Corbin said, “... they’re seeing the slider a little bit more, seeing your pitches, and I think if I can execute a little bit better I think that’s probably been the biggest issue there, and I don’t know, I’m diving in numbers all the time, trying to look at stuff to try to find a way to get better, to turn this around and it just stinks, it just hasn’t been working.”
Through 26 outings, before he took on the New York Mets on Labor Day in Washington, D.C., Corbin, in the third year of a six-year/$140M deal with the Nationals, had a 6.26 ERA, a 5.65 FIP, 47 walks (3.00 BB/9), 114 Ks (7.28 K/9), and a .282/.339/.513 line against in 141 IP, over which he’d given up an NL-leading 33 home runs, one shy of his combined total in 267 2⁄3 IP between 2019-20.
“I’m trying to do everything I can to go out there and have success, it’s just not working, so it’s been a tough year for a lot of us here, it’s frustrating, and ... yep,” Corbin said.
What did the Nationals and Corbin focus on going into start No. 27 of 2021 for the lefty?
“We talked a lot primarily about working on the outside part of the plate a little bit more,” Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez said in his pregame Zoom call with reporters.
“Working on his two-seamer, keeping it down, so he had a good bullpen session the other day, so we’ll see how that transpires today.”
Asked how Corbin has been handling all the adversity, after struggling through 2020’s 60-game campaign as well, Martinez said he’s obviously frustrated, but doing what he can to try to sort things out.
“He gets — obviously after every game he doesn’t do well he’s frustrated, but by the next day he goes back, he looks at it, and he’s really working hard to try to get back into those six innings, utilizing his slider a little bit better, not — like I told him, I said, ‘Hey, look, we all know that your slider has been good over the years, and you’ve thrown it a lot. I don’t think that’s the issue, I think the issue is that you’re almost doing the same thing over and over again, and I think hitters have caught on, especially with two strikes.
“‘You bury a couple of sliders, they don’t chase, now all of a sudden you’ve got to throw a strike, and they’re ready for it, so I think if you were able to utilize, like I said, both sides of the plate, where they just can’t sit on one side of home plate, I think it’s going to benefit you and benefit us.’ So this is something that you know, I said, we have to continue to work on with him, get him comfortable doing it, because he’s done it the same way for so many years, and been successful. But I think now his stuff is so good, and he’s throwing — like I said, his stuff has been electric. He’s up in the mid-90s now with his fastball, and the ball is moving so I think he needs to utilize that better.”
In Monday’s game, Corbin, paired with Alex Avila by his manager in the catcher’s first start since coming off a long IL stint, gave up three hits and a run in the first, a run on two singles and a groundout in the fourth, and a third run on the 34th home run he’s allowed this season in the sixth, and his manager, with a bullpen that was short [ed. note - “Very short,” he stressed after saying it was short in his post game Zoom call.”], sent him back out for the top of the seventh for just the eighth time in 27 starts, and Corbin worked around a single and walk to keep it 3-2 in the Mets’ favor before the Nationals rallied and walked off with a win in the bottom of the ninth.
Patrick Corbin’s Line: 7.0 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 Ks, 1 HR, 114 P, 73 S, 11/2 GO/FO.
Patrick Corbin battled for 7 innings and kept us in the ballgame.@PatrickCorbin46 // #NATITUDE pic.twitter.com/oP7iNxY2fS— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) September 6, 2021
“He did well,” Martinez said after the game. “He gave us the innings we needed. Regardless of what anybody thinks, I’ll tell you, our bullpen has been beaten up and he gave us seven innings, which was awesome, so you know, he pitched well, he used both sides of the plate like we asked him to, Alex did a great job with him, utilizing all of his pitches, and he kept us in the ballgame, which was awesome.”
Corbin said Avila called for some pitches that got him big outs, including double plays, and he and the backstop were in sync throughout his time on the mound.
“Pretty much all day we were in sync,” Corbin told reporters.
“I might have shook him once ... he’s a veteran catcher back there, he does his homework, and there’s a reason that he’s throwing down those pitches and you trust a guy like that.”
Assessing his outing overall, Corbin said, “I thought early on I made some pitches, they got some hits that fell in that necessarily weren’t hit that hard, but I felt like I was able to pitch out of a couple jams, which was good, and overall felt great, and to get around 115 pitches today, feeling strong to that point, I was pleased with it.”