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Washington Nationals & Patrick Corbin keep looking for a fix...

Davey Martinez likes what he’s seen from Patrick Corbin in his last two starts after an extended break between turns in the Nationals’ rotation...

Washington Nationals v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

“Patrick pitched really well,” Davey Martinez said of Patrick Corbin’s outing against the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon in Petco Park. “I’ll take those outings from him. The last two outings I thought he pitched well.”

In those starts, Corbin, 33, returned from a 10-day break between outings, during which he worked on his mechanics and tried to once again find some fix for what’s ailed him since a solid season (and that World Series championship) in the first year of his 6-year/$140M free agent deal with Washington in 2019.

Noting the club has measured a “decrease and decline” in Corbin’s spin rate since the 2018-19 seasons, GM Mike Rizzo, in his weekly visit with 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last week, offered his own thoughts on what’s been behind the southpaw’s struggles in the past three seasons, and the drop in spin rate in particular.

Washington Nationals v San Diego Padres Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

“I don’t know if it’s a hand placement, that’s kind of what they’re working on, they’ve taken away the apparatus for the contact to the baseball, the sticky stuff type of thing, so that may have some impact,” Rizzo explained, “... but it’s — I think with Patrick we’re trying to work on grip and finger placement on the ball and that type of thing, and like I said, working extremely hard and trying to get better.”

Corbin gave up six hits, two walks, and four earned runs in six innings against Chicago in the nation’s capital, then followed up on that outing with 5 13 innings against San Diego in which he gave up nine hits, two walks, and two earned runs.

He said after the first start back he thought the extended time off between outings was beneficial.

“I think that was the biggest thing [was] just getting away,” he explained.

“I’ve been out there every fifth day. I think just stepping away, getting on the mound a couple times, and just knowing that I had some time before the start. But physically I feel good. Obviously I’d love to go out there, and execute, and have some better results, and I think the ball is coming out just as good as it has, so just try to execute better and better sequences.”

Corbin received no decision against the Cubs, and took the loss against the Padres, which extended a winless streak to his last nine outings, over which he’s had an 8.33 ERA, a 5.60 FIP, and a .372/.424/.583 line against in 40 IP. His manager said he saw positive signs from the work the left-hander did during his extended time off between starts earlier this month.

“I mean, he’s mixing his pitches, he’s throwing his fastballs a lot more in when he needs to,” the fifth-year skipper explained, “... but working a lot away, throwing his changeups a lot better, using his sliders when he needs to, but he’s pitching well.”

Corbin generated nine swinging strikes, six with his sinker, and got 16 called strikes, 14 of them on his sinker, which he threw 65% of the time, up from a 40% average on the season, but he said he didn’t have command of the pitch in a long, 30-pitch first in which he gave up a leadoff walk and two one-out singles, but no runs.

MLB: Washington Nationals at San Diego Padres Ray Acevedo-USA TODAY Sports

“I was just missing a little bit, both sides of the plate,” Corbin said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, following the 2-1 loss to the Padres.

“I was down, just a little off there. I knew I threw 30 pitches there, but I felt pretty good where my misses were and thought I’d be able to correct it.”

Corbin held the home team off the board through five, but gave up a leadoff double and a two-run home run (by former teammate Josh Bell) in the first two at-bats in the sixth, and a one-out single ended his start after 97 pitches (56 strikes).

“I think, overall, it was pretty good today,” Corbin said. “I had a really good fastball. My sinker was good.

“Just the one pitch to Bell ... he’s strong and put a really good swing on it. I’m just pleased with how it went, other than we lost the game.”

“He’s keeping the ball down,” Martinez said when asked what’s worked for Corbin in his last two turns in the rotation. “He’s getting double plays. That’s what he does, right?

“He gets ground balls. But when he’s down he’s good, and I hope he learned today that, hey, keeping the ball down is effective, and that’s what he needs to do.”