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Washington Nationals’ Opening Day starter Patrick Corbin tries to move on from ‘20-21

Patrick Corbin and the Nationals are confident the lefty will put the last two seasons behind him and get back to being the pitcher he was in 2019...

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Corbin’s struggles the past two seasons (2020-21), after the left-hander helped the Washington Nationals win the World Series in the first year of his six-year/$140M deal with the club in ‘19, have been well-documented, as have the reasons he and the club’s coaches and analysts believe he had issues the last two years, but heading into the 2022 campaign, the southpaw is looking to take what he can from those two trying seasons and move on, or get back to his form from 2019 and during his time in Arizona.

“I know that the last couple years were terrible,” Corbin acknowledged, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jessica Camerato earlier this spring.

“I’ve moved past it, and I feel good about where I’m at.”

While his manager, Davey Martinez, has stressed forgetting about 2020-21 and moving on, Corbin reiterated that there are things he learned, while suggesting circumstances in the two seasons have not been ideal, with all the start-up/stop/start drama of 2020’s 60-game season, and then the pre-Opening Day COVID outbreak in 2021, messing with everyone’s preparation.

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

“I think we can learn from what happened and move forward,” Corbin said. “I know what I’m capable of doing out there, and I really forgot kind of how those last two seasons went.

“Hopefully now, we can just kind of get on a normal schedule, have things back to normal, and be able to go out there and compete like I love to do.”

So much for that with the lockout compressing the Spring Training schedule, but things were closer to normal this spring in West Palm Beach.

Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo, who signed Corbin to that six-year deal back in 2018-19, after the left-hander put together a couple strong seasons in Arizona, told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies yesterday that the club’s Opening Day starter this year is primed for a bounce-back season in D.C.

“A couple of years [back], Corbin was terrific with Arizona,” Rizzo explained, “... which led us to really aggressively go after what we thought was one of the really good left-handed pitchers in the game. He got to us and he did not disappoint, he took every role we gave him, he pitched big games and threw great. And then 2020 happened, and to me that was a throwaway season, guys didn’t know how to prepare, we stopped — we did prepare, we stopped, and we broke again and we had to ramp up and prepare [for a] 60-game season, and that was kind of a wasted season for Patrick.

“And then last year, he started off very, very slow. The good thing that I saw from [2021] as opposed to ‘20, his stuff was back. He came off that 2019 season, where he pitched a lot, pitched often, we went to him a lot in starting roles and relief roles, he pitched more than anybody we had in the playoffs, so he was beat down a little bit and his velocity was down in ‘20 and the beginning of ‘21, but at the end I was encouraged by the fact that his stuff was coming back.

“Now, he wasn’t locating it well enough, he was getting beaten up pretty good, but I think that he recommitted this year, and his stuff looks good down in Spring Training, he’s pitching well, he’s stretched out very nicely, and I think we’re going to have a good bounce-back season from Patrick.”

Corbin put up a 5.82 ERA, a 5.41 FIP, 60 walks, 143 Ks, and a .286/.345/.510 line against in 31 starts and 171 2⁄3 innings pitched last season, over which he gave up 37 home runs, the most by any National League starter, and the second-most in the majors on the year, behind only the Texas Rangers’ starter Jordan Lyles (38).

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The 32-year-old lefty has a combined 4.47 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 148 walks, and 441 Ks over 75 starts and 439 1⁄3 IP in the first three years of his deal in D.C., with a 5.50 ERA, 5.06 FIP, 78 walks, and 203 Ks in the last two seasons, after he put up a 3.25 ERA, a 3.49 FIP, 70 walks, and 238 Ks in 33 starts and 202 IP in 2019.

Corbin walked two and struck out 10 in two starts and 9 IP this spring, holding hitters to a .182 AVG, and a few days back he was officially named the Opening Day starter.

“He had a good camp,” Martinez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman this past weekend.

“And some of the things we talked to him about at the end of last year, he really came in and worked on a lot of things this winter and came back and feels strong.

“He’s throwing the ball where he wants to throw it. I’m looking forward to watching him go out there and compete.”

“I want him to go out and compete and just go have fun and be the guy that he was in ’19, and before then,” Martinez added.