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Washington Nationals’ Patrick Corbin still searching for answers; but raising more questions...

What will the Nationals do with Patrick Corbin if he continues to struggle on the mound?

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

San Francisco’s Giants started the night with a .156 AVG against left-handed pitchers early in the 2022 campaign, which was the worst in the National League, and their .222 OBP vs. lefties was 15th of 15 as well, with their .244 SLG vs. southpaws through 13 games next-to-last on the senior circuit a few weeks into the season.

In spite of Patrick Corbin’s struggles the past couple years, and again early this season (7.50 ERA, 3.47 FIP, 6.00 BB/9, .333/.433/.412 line against in three starts and 12 IP), Nats’ manager Davey Martinez told reporters before the series opener with the Giants in Washington, D.C.’s Nationals Park he thought the left-handed starter matched up well with the visitor’s lineup.

“I think every game is a good matchup for Patrick,” Martinez said. “I really do. And if he goes out there and attacks this lineup like he attacked Pittsburgh in the first five innings [in his previous start], we’re going to have a good day. It’s like I said, when he comes out there and he goes deep in games, he’s got to start — still work ahead of hitters and controlling the game like he did early in the game [in Pittsburgh], so I told him, for me he’s not that far off, he’s throwing the ball well, he feels really good, so hopefully he goes out there today, and like I said, he pitches the way he pitched the first five innings of the game [against the Pirates] but continues to do that in the sixth or seventh inning if we can get him that far.”

Corbin tossed five scoreless innings against the Bucs in PNC Park before issuing a pair of one-out walks around a single, which loaded the bases, and ended his outing in the sixth, with two of the three runners he left on scoring once reliever Victor Arano came on.

Going up against the Giants last night, Corbin stranded two runners in the first, with back-to-back Ks after a one-out single and walk, but he didn’t get out of the second, giving up a leadoff double, one-out walk, a single on which one run scored on an error by Victor Robles in center, and a three-run home run, 4-0. Two more singles and a walk loaded the bases back up, and another double cleared them, 7-0, and ended the lefty’s outing after he threw 60 pitches in 1 23 IP.

“He was just — I thought he was just up in the zone,” Martinez said in assessing what went wrong for Corbin.

“He got the first two outs [in the first], balls were moving good, sliders were down, fastballs were down,” the manager added, “and then everything started getting elevated, and when he throws the ball up there, he loses that sink, so the ball becomes flat.”

If they like his stuff, and Corbin continues to feel good, how to explain the continued issues, and the seeming inability to make necessary adjustments?

“I don’t know,” Martinez said. “For me, sometimes he feels so good that I think he tries to overthrow, and that’s where you see the balls up. So, like I said, when he’s really good, everything is down. Everything is working down. Away, down, in on the sliders, and he can get the fastball down, in, and running back over the plate on the inside, and he did that a couple times, but we got to keep him down, I mean, he’s really good when he’s down.”

“I’m pissed. I’m upset,” Corbin said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after the game.

“I’m trying to do everything I can to get better. I’m really just still searching a little bit. But I’ll come in tomorrow, like I do every day, and try to get better.”

Martinez was also asked if, given the results in 2020, 2021, and so far this season, running Corbin back out there every five days is still the best option.

“Yeah, he’s going to pitch every five days. His stuff, like I said, his stuff is good, we just got to get him to understand what he needs to do with it consistency-wise, and like I said, for me it’s having him throw the balls down, not throw through the sinker, continue to let the ball work for him, and throw his sliders, and not try to bury his sliders neither. He can throw them down, over the strike zone, for me it’s more strike-strike-ball, than ball out of the hand.

“So, that’s something that we’ll talk to him about, because he did it well, he did it in Pittsburgh well, he kept the ball down well until that one inning, and like I said, the first two hitters today he looked great, then he walked — he got out of the inning, but he walked because I thought he was trying to overthrow, all of a sudden he started throwing 94, and he ended up walking [Brandon] Belt.”