Corbin turns back clock in latest strong start

Lefty continues upward trend with 1st start of 7 IP & 3 or fewer hits since 2019

September 4th, 2022

NEW YORK -- Entering Saturday night, the headline of the pitching matchup at Citi Field was Max Scherzer vying for his 200th career win against his former team. After seven strong innings, Patrick Corbin made his own news in a 7-1 win over the Mets. 

Corbin (6-17) held the National League East-leading Mets to three hits, one run, one home run and one walk. He recorded five strikeouts across 85 pitches, 60 for strikes.

“When he can throw strikes and he’s got that confidence going, he’s every bit of really good,” said manager Dave Martinez. “I mean, he really is. I was proud of him. I’ve been proud of him. I’m glad that things are starting to work out for him.”

It was Corbin’s first start of seven-plus innings while allowing three hits or fewer since Aug. 21, 2019, against Pittsburgh -- notable given his struggles since last season, which have included a league-high ERA. 

But in the four starts since the Nationals skipped Corbin’s turn in the rotation last month, they are seeing an improved version of the 33-year-old southpaw. Corbin is 2-1 since then, including a 1.96 ERA in his last three outings with four earned runs allowed across 18 1/3 innings. 

“Getting away from going out there every fifth day for a start and just kind of [relaxing] or just getting a little time to think about some things, I think, was the biggest thing with that,” Corbin said. “I’m feeling good. I’m just looking forward to the rest of my starts.”

Martinez has stressed wanting players to head into the offseason feeling strong. Corbin, who is under contract through 2024, is on an upswing with a month to go in the regular season. 

“We worked diligently with him, and he’s doing exactly what we thought he could do,” Martinez said. “A lot of it had to do with just not giving up on him, right? We stayed with him. He was encouraged by the fact that we were not going to give up on him.”

A slider-heavy pitcher, Corbin switched up his pitch mix effectively on Saturday. He threw 71 percent sinkers, 15 percent sliders, 11 percent fastballs and 4 percent changeups. 

“It wasn’t necessarily the plan,” Corbin said. “I was working both sides of the plate pretty well. I was able to [come inside] a lot with fastballs, get ahead and allow them to swing. I was able to pitch deep in the game [and] keep the pitch count down.”

Martinez noted of Corbin’s arsenal: “He was only behind on two guys. Strike one, strike one, attacking the hitters -- he was awesome today. He didn’t really need to use his slider that much. He threw some really [good] changeups. But his sinker was working tremendously today.”

After Luis García put the Nationals on the board in the first inning with a dinger off Scherzer, Eduardo Escobar’s game-tying solo home run in the third was the only damage allowed by Corbin.

"Command was good,” Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “He was spotting up inside and then getting up in the zone, a little extra half a foot on his fastball. He was spinning the ball at the top, that’s why we had a lot of fly balls. And then he got a lot of pitches on the inner quarter that he hadn't been doing. But he's been doing that for [his] last couple starts. This is a guy that's really started to pitch well, and we knew that he might be a challenge tonight."

Lane Thomas belted a go-ahead homer in the eighth, and the Nats collectively broke the game open with a five-run ninth inning that sent the home crowd to the exits. 

“It was a packed stadium out there, you get some energy,” Corbin said. “When I’m in between the lines, I just like to compete and try to give us the best chance to win. No matter what our record, that’s my job to go out there and do the best I can.”