Corbin last starter to get eased into action
Lefty goes two innings for Nats, cautious after long postseason
JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals manager Dave Martinez had observed more than two weeks of warmups by the time his entire starting rotation of pitchers had made their Spring Training debuts.
“When you watch bullpens, like I do every day, they wow you,” Martinez said. “Like, ‘Wow, man, they’ve got good stuff.’ Now all of a sudden, I like to see them go out and compete, and compete against guys in other uniforms.”
Patrick Corbin was the final starter to make a spring start. He threw two innings against the Cardinals on Saturday in the Nationals’ 6-3 loss at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium. The lefty allowed one hit, one run and two walks in his first appearance since pitching out of the bullpen in Game 7 of the World Series against the Astros.
“I like what I saw out of Pat,” Martinez said. “Had some nice fluidity. He was getting extended, which was kind of nice. He felt good. Now we’ll build him up his next outing.”
The team had been cautious with its arms following a postseason that stretched until Oct. 30. In total, Nationals pitchers threw 153 innings in their World Series-winning run. Washington had to manage offseason rest with Spring Training preparation.
Max Scherzer was determined to get back to business as usual and start the first spring game. He threw two scoreless innings with two strikeouts before the game was cancelled because of rain. Scherzer was back out there on Thursday, and the Nationals bumped his innings up to three.
Aníbal Sánchez, Joe Ross, Erick Fedde and Austin Voth (the last three contending for the fifth starting spot) had made their debuts by Wednesday, while Stephen Strasburg's and Corbin’s starts were scheduled for a few days later to account for their postseason work. Strasburg pitched on Friday. Their totals:
• Corbin: 1 start, 2 innings, 1 hit, 1 run, 2 walks, 1 strikeout.
• Fedde: 2 games (1 start), 4 innings, 3 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 2 walks, 4 strikeouts.
• Ross: 1 start, 2 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 0 strikeouts.
• Sánchez: 1 start, 2 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts.
• Scherzer (not including cancelled game): 1 start, 3 innings, 2 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 2 wild pitches.
• Strasburg: 1 start, 1 1/3 innings, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, 1 wild pitch.
• Voth: 2 games (1 start), 4 innings, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts.
“I think it was a smart move just with how much a lot of us did throw last year,” Corbin said. “Max wanted to throw Game 1, so he was just a little different. I think it was good for all of us. We’ll still get plenty of starts, plenty of innings this spring to build up. We’re ready to go.”
Now the Nats can begin to implement a more consistent five-day schedule for their starters to prepare them for the regular season. They will look for the pitchers to shake off the first-outing rust, get back to game speed, work on location and mix in different looks. They will also begin to up their pitch counts. Strasburg, for example, will have a 45-pitch guideline in his next start.
“For me, the biggest thing is it helps us get a routine,” Martinez said. “Now, all of a sudden, we know exactly what to expect, what to look for. It’s hard early in the spring to see where these guys are at. Now, all of a sudden, they fall in this routine. We know what we need to do, how we need to proceed forward to get them ready for the season. It’s kind of nice to see them all out there competing and getting back in that groove.”
The Nationals have yet to officially name their Opening Day starter.