Patrick Corbin wrapped up the fifth year of his 6-year/$140M deal in D.C. with a 4 2⁄3-inning, 90-pitch outing on the road in Baltimore, MD’s Oriole Park at Camden Yards, in which the 34-year-old Washington National gave up six hits (one a home run), four walks, and a total of four earned runs.
Corbin finished up his 2023 season (his 11th in the majors) with his ERA at 5.20, a 5.28 FIP, 57 walks (2.85 BB/9), 124 strikeouts (6.20 K/9), and 33 home runs allowed (the 33rd last night in a 9-1 loss to the Orioles; 1.65 HR/9).
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He made 30+ starts for the fourth time in four full seasons in Washington. He did, of course, struggle again at times, putting together some solid outings, but failing to find the form he showed in 2018 with the D-backs and 2019 with the Nationals, when he helped his then-new club win the ‘19 World Series in his first year with the Nationals.
“You know, the numbers don’t indicate that he did well,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said in his post game comments after the team’s fourth loss in four games with the O’s this season, “... but he’s got more wins than a lot of other starting pitchers in the major leagues.”
“I could give him the ball every five days,” Martinez continued. “He works really hard. He works hard in-between his starts. The guy’s going to eat innings for you. I think this winter, the whole — he needs to come up with an identity for him, what he wants to do moving forward.”
“He’s got to understand that, hey, when he throws the ball down and uses his changeup, it makes everything else better, it really does,” the sixth-year manager explained when asked about Corbin “finding an identity” at this point in his career, following four years of the left-hander trying to find the form which earned him his six-year deal in D.C.
“His fastball, two-seamer down, everything works down and he gets a lot of weak contact down there, as we saw,” Martinez said, “and as soon as he gets the ball up the ball gets hit hard.”
“When he gets the ball down he’s pretty good, we got to get him to understand that he’s got to get the ball down, and keep the ball down, use his changeup.
“His changeup is a good pitch. Slider was good.
“Overall, I thought, you look back and he pitched some tough games, kept us in a lot of games. So we’ll build off of that and hopefully he comes back stronger next year.”
Corbin told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, he felt good after his 32nd outing of the ‘23 campaign.
“I still feel confident in my abilities. I’m healthy. I’m good to end the season, and I think everyone here is looking forward to some time off and then getting ready to go again,” Corbin said.
What sort of changes (they haven’t tried in the last four years?) does the manager want to see Corbin make over the winter, heading into the final season of his deal with the Nats?
“He’s still got good stuff,” Martinez said. “We can see that by a lot of swings and misses, a lot of soft contact, but he’s got to trust it, he’s got to trust the process, and commit to it, and be convicted to it. Hopefully next year we’ll sit down with him again, and talk to him about where we feel he’s at and he can come back and give us another 150+ innings and do what he does.”
Corbin has, as his manager mentions often, been a steady presence in the starting rotation in the nation’s capital, and he’s taken on a leadership role with a young staff, trying to do all he can to contribute behind the scenes as he works to sort things out on the mound.
“He’s really taken those young guys in and talked to them about certain things,” Martinez said. “How to compete up here. He’s been really good. I’m proud of him. I said this even last year, but he comes and he takes the ball every five days and he does everything we ask him to do. So I hope that things will turn around for him, I really do, because he’s still got good stuff.”