WASHINGTON -- Normally when a team inks a player to a contract as lucrative as the six-year, $140 million deal the Nationals awarded to left-hander Patrick Corbin this winter, that player enters the season as the center of attention. Yet Corbin has managed to fly under the radar at the
WASHINGTON -- Normally when a team inks a player to a contract as lucrative as the six-year, $140 million deal the Nationals awarded to left-hander Patrick Corbin this winter, that player enters the season as the center of attention. Yet Corbin has managed to fly under the radar at the start of his career in D.C., blending in behind Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg in the rotation, or the red-hot Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto in the lineup.
Corbin has quietly put up masterful results in his first four starts with his new team, and his outing in Thursday’s 4-2 victory was perhaps his best yet. He scattered two hits and one walk across 7 2/3 innings and held the Giants to one run while striking out nine, taking advantage of a generous strike zone to frustrate San Francisco's hitters all afternoon and pick up his first victory with the Nats.
“He really wasn’t giving them any chance to get into any kind of rhythm,” Nationals catcher Yan Gomes said. “He was taking apart the corners. We were getting calls. I know their guys were kind of getting mad about it, but he was hitting that spot consistently. At some point, those calls are going to be made. And he just kept going right after it.”
Corbin has been even more dominant in his two most recent starts, in which he has allowed just two earned runs in 14 2/3 innings (0.61 ERA) with 20 strikeouts and two walks. He pitched well in his first three outings, but the Nats’ beleaguered bullpen faltered late in the game each time, leaving him without a decision so far this season.
Corbin didn’t leave much work for the bullpen on Thursday afternoon. His low pitch count allowed him to flirt with a chance to finish the game himself, but the Giants’ hitters ran up his pitch count and eventually scored a run to knock him out of the game. Kyle Barraclough and Sean Doolittle recorded the final four outs to help lead the Nationals to a much-needed series win and push their record back above .500 at 9-8.
“It’s been fun to watch and I’m happy for him,” Doolittle said. “He’s pitched really well so far this year and finally gets that first win as a National. He’s deserved at least a couple wins already this year, so to hold that one down for him in a pretty big game for us, even though it’s April … that was really big for us. He stepped up big time today; that was fun to watch.”
One of the most impressive aspects of Corbin’s start with Washington is that he has managed to avoid the pitfalls of putting too much pressure on himself to perform with a new team. He has remained out of the immense spotlight that comes with trying to help guide the Nats back to the postseason, where he would almost certainly play a crucial role in any playoffs rotation.
Instead, Corbin has continued to excel, picking up where he left off from his breakout 2018 season to put together a 2.36 ERA with 33 strikeouts and five walks in his first four starts.
“I’ve always tried to not think of pressure really,” Corbin said. “I feel like when you’re well prepared and you’re getting your work in in between and trying to learn to get better, the results should lean toward the positive.”
Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.