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Patient Corbin eagerly awaiting Game 4 start

28-year-old would make first postseason start if Arizona wins Game 3
MLB.com @boomskie

PHOENIX -- D-backs left-hander Patrick Corbin is slated to come out of mothballs to start Game 4 of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile against the Dodgers on Tuesday night at Chase Field.

But the D-backs must win Game 3 tonight first.

Full Game Coverage

PHOENIX -- D-backs left-hander Patrick Corbin is slated to come out of mothballs to start Game 4 of the National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile against the Dodgers on Tuesday night at Chase Field.

But the D-backs must win Game 3 tonight first.

Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS schedule and coverage ::

Arizona trails the best-of-five series, 2-0, and must beat the Dodgers behind staff ace Zack Greinke to remain alive. Lose, and the D-backs disperse for the winter. Win, and it's Corbin against Alex Wood.

Corbin has been in the bullpen for the NL Wild Card Game and the first two Division Series games, patiently waiting his turn.

"I mean, I want to be out there," Corbin said during Sunday's off-day clubhouse availability. "Being here all season and being a big part of this, I want to help out in any way I can."

The D-backs' starting pitching has been a mess, but the disappearance of Corbin has been unusual. Corbin hasn't made a start since Sept. 24, when he pitched 6 2/3 innings of two-run, five-hit ball in the D-backs' 3-2 victory over the Marlins. His only other appearance was 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief on Sept. 29 against the Royals in Kansas City.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo indicated this has been by design.

"We looked at Patrick as being a very versatile piece in this puzzle," he said. "We had him for coverage during the first [three] games and had him go down to the bullpen, and we're planning on having him start Game 4. That was part of our game plan all along.

"It's a credit to him for being that versatile. He was able to fill that role."

Greinke couldn't get out of the fourth inning of Wednesday's NL Wild Card Game, forcing Lovullo to turn to lefty starter Robbie Ray, who threw 34 pitches in relief in Arizona's win over the Rockies.

In Friday's Game 1 of the NLDS at Dodger Stadium, Taijuan Walker was yanked after allowing four runs in the first inning in a 9-5 loss. In Saturday's Game 2, Ray was lifted with one out in the fifth inning, giving up four runs and tossing another 88 pitches in the D-backs' 8-5 defeat.

Corbin has been available out of the bullpen, but hasn't been called upon.

Video: COL@ARI: Corbin ties career high with 14th win

Lovullo used five relievers on Friday and three more on Saturday, including rookie Jimmie Sherfy in both games. Another starter, Zack Godley, threw five innings and 100 pitches behind Walker. Corbin, who posted 14 wins during the regular season, never got up to warm up.

When he didn't get in on Saturday, Corbin took it upon himself to throw a bullpen session after the game, his first since Monday, Corbin said.

"I was in the bullpen if they needed me, then I threw a session afterward just to get some work off the mound," Corbin said. "We'll see. I threw about 30 pitches just to get a touch and feel out there. I feel great. There are no issues with me at all.

"This is the longest break I've had, so I feel really good. My arm's ready to go. I'm just waiting for my name to be called."

Corbin had a strong second half, winning eight of his past 12 decisions, though he has just a 3-9 record and 4.42 ERA in 16 career appearances (14 starts) against the Dodgers.

But the postseason is a different animal, as Walker can attest; before Friday, he was 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA at Dodger Stadium in two starts this season.

At 28, Corbin is a tenacious competitor. He had a breakout 2013 season, posting a 14-8 record with a 3.41 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 32 starts. But the following spring, he succumbed to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. Expected to be a mainstay in the D-backs' rotation, he missed all of the 2014 season and half of 2015.

After finishing with a 5.15 ERA in his first full season following the surgery in 2016, he righted the ship and won 14 games in '17. Now he's set to make the biggest start of his career, if the D-backs can win tonight.

"I felt like Game 4 was going to be the most crucial game of the series," Lovullo said. "We have to be careful about projecting to Game 4 because we have to get through Game 3 first. He will be the starter of Game 4 ... and I still feel it will be a very pivotal game. So there was some strategy there."

Meanwhile, Corbin will be ready if he gets the call.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks