Corbin named Opening Day starter for Nats

April 3rd, 2022

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Patrick Corbin will begin his pursuit of a turnaround season on Thursday as the Nationals' Opening Day starter, manager Dave Martinez announced Saturday. The southpaw will take the mound at 4:05 p.m. ET against the Mets at Nationals Park.

“I’m just excited about it,” Corbin said Sunday morning. “It’s a special day and it’s an honor to be named that. I feel like I’ve prepared this offseason and this shortened Spring Training to be ready to go.”

Corbin, 32, posted a 0.00 ERA in two Spring Training starts. He allowed six hits and four unearned runs -- including one home run -- while recording 10 strikeouts across nine innings.

Martinez finalized the decision after Corbin threw 90 pitches in six innings against Nationals Minor Leaguers at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches prior to Washington's rained-out evening exhibition game against the Marlins at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on Saturday. Corbin is slated to throw a bullpen session of 30 to 40 pitches on Monday to wrap up his spring action.

“He had a good camp,” Martinez said. “He feels strong, and he's throwing the ball where he wants to throw it, so it's good.”

Corbin is coming off of a rocky 2021 performance in which he accumulated a league-high 5.82 ERA and went 9-16 in 31 starts. This, one year after going 2-7 with a 4.66 ERA across 11 starts in the abbreviated '20 season.

Corbin and the Nats are looking for a return to his performance of 2019, when he was 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA in 33 starts as part of the World Series championship-winning rotation. To that end, areas of Corbin’s focus have included commanding his fastball and avoiding overthrowing.

“I’m over what has happened before,” Corbin said. “I’m focused on moving forward and trying to get better. ... I feel like the ball’s coming out good. I’m confident with everything that I’ve done to this point, and [I’m] just really excited to take the mound Opening Day in front of a packed stadium. That’ll be exciting.”

Thursday will mark Corbin’s second Opening Day start of his career. He got the call for the D-backs in 2018. That day, he fanned eight batters and allowed two runs -- on a pair of homers -- in 5 2/3 frames in a win against the Rockies.

“I want him to go out and compete ... just go have fun and be the guy that he was in '19 and before then,” Martinez said. “He was the guy in Arizona when we got him, so I'm just happy that he's in a good place right now and that he's throwing the ball well."

There is a chance Corbin could square off against former teammate Max Scherzer if the three-time Cy Young Award winner is cleared to pitch on Thursday for the Mets. It would be Scherzer’s first return to Nationals Park since being traded to the Dodgers last July.

“I think it’d be pretty neat,” Corbin said. “We’ve become really close over the years that I’ve been here. My wife’s actually flying up [from Florida] with his wife, so that would be pretty funny if that did happen. Hopefully, he’s good to go. Obviously, I think it’d be pretty neat for him to be in front of our fans there in D.C. I’m sure he’ll get some loud cheers for that. But I think once the game gets going and we start competing, you just focus on doing your job and maybe after we can have a talk about it.”