Corbin still shaky; 'Not like him to hit batters'
WASHINGTON -- Patrick Corbin’s early season struggles continued on Thursday as he gave up a career-high 10 runs to the D-backs, his former team, in the Nationals’ 11-6 loss at Nats Park.
The lefty’s pitching line told the story of a difficult start: six hits, three homers, 10 runs (nine earned), four walks, two hit batters and one strikeout in just two innings. He tossed 63 pitches, with 35 for strikes.
“He wasn’t sharp,” manager Dave Martinez said. “It’s not like him to hit batters, and his location was bad. I can’t really pinpoint anything right now on him. His mechanics look like they’re OK, so we’re just going to have to dig in a little deeper.”
The beginning of Corbin’s 10th season was delayed when he was placed on the IL as part of COVID-19 protocols. He made his 2021 debut last Saturday at Dodger Stadium, where he allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings. His ERA stands at 21.32 after two starts. Although Corbin said his legs felt better than they did in his previous appearance, the result was his second loss.
“I don’t have anything right now that I thought mechanically looked off,” Corbin said. “A couple bad outings here. Hopefully, I can go back out there and do what I’m capable of doing.”
Corbin’s troubles against the D-backs began almost immediately. He allowed a solo home run to Carson Kelly, the second batter of the game, off a 92 mph sinker. The next at-bat, Eduardo Escobar belted an 80.8 mph changeup beyond center field.
Though the Nats answered with four runs in the bottom of the first, including Starlin Castro’s first homer of the season, the D-backs’ damage was far from over. Corbin allowed a run on three consecutive at-bats in the second -- a fielder’s choice, a walk and a hit batter. With the bases loaded, Andrew Young rocked a 76.7 mph changeup to right field for a grand slam.
“I was trying to stay on the heater and react to everything else,” Young said. “He wasn’t overpowering many hitters in the lineup, so I thought I could adjust to it. He threw me three changeups in a row. The last pitch was up and elevated. I just kind of went with it.”
After the game, Corbin studied game film to see if there were any glaring mechanical errors. There weren’t. He plans to ask the team for feedback, get his workouts in and then focus on getting ahead of batters and pitching deeper into the game. The relievers have been taxed recently -- following Corbin’s 4 1/3-inning start on Saturday, Stephen Strasburg exited after just four frames on Tuesday.
“It's frustrating,” he said. “To go two innings as a starter, I'm more disappointed [in that]. Our bullpen, I was hoping to give them some length today, give them a break.”
Corbin’s previous career-high in runs allowed was nine, surrendered to the Phillies on Aug. 25, 2013 -- his second year with the D-backs. He pitched his first six seasons in Arizona before signing a six-year deal with the Nats after the '18 season.
This outing marked the seventh time in Nationals history (2005-present) a pitcher has allowed 10 or more runs. A.J. Cole most recently gave up 10 to the Braves on April 3, 2018.
“You try to forget about these,” Corbin said. “But like I said, I feel alright. I can't think of something off the top of my head. You just get back to the simple things: commanding the strike zone, throwing quality pitches, getting ahead of guys, things like that. Stick to my strengths."