Corbin finds vintage form with 12-K gem

June 29th, 2022

WASHINGTON -- As Tuesday approached, manager Dave Martinez had a feeling ’s 16th start of the season would be a strong outing for the southpaw. Martinez had seen progress in Corbin, and he thought the matchups against the Pirates were in Corbin’s favor.

“I told [assistant general manager, player personnel] Mark Scialabba that [Corbin] was going to go eight innings before the game today,” Martinez said with a smile. “His stuff was really good. He went out in the seventh, [retired] the side and I looked at [pitching coach Jim] Hickey and said, ‘I like him right now. I still like him.’ He came in, gave me the thumbs up, said he still felt good.”

Corbin threw eight innings, allowed one run off five hits (including a home run) and two walks, and he tied his career high with 12 strikeouts in the Nats’ 3-1 victory over the Pirates at Nationals Park. He tossed 73 of his season-high 113 pitches for strikes.

“I’ve been feeling really good,” Corbin said. “Some ups and downs, but I thought today I was able to stay on the attack, I was able to use both sides of the plate, the slider was good today, and I thought Riley [Adams] did a great job back there. Just one of those nights where it seemed everything was clicking, and it just shows all the work that we’ve been doing to try to get to this point.”

Tuesday marked Corbin’s 16th career start with 10-plus strikeouts. The last time he reached double digits was Sept. 17, 2019, at St. Louis. He entered the game averaging 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings, having fanned six in his most recent start last Wednesday in Baltimore.

“We had a really good slider tonight,” Corbin said. “And when you’re ahead, they chase a little bit more.”

The Nationals have needed length from their starters in an injury-hampered rotation. After throwing a combined 7 1/3 frames in his past two outings, Corbin tied his season high in innings.

“Tonight, he was good with everything,” Martinez said. “His fastball was electric. His slider was awesome. He worked ahead in counts. He fell behind and took one ball up for the home run, but other than that, he was money all day. If we get that every five days from Corbin, we’re going to be good.”

Because of Corbin’s lengthy outing, the Nationals only needed to make one call to the bullpen: closer , for his 11th save of the season.

“Lately, you haven’t seen that out of him as much,” Rainey said. “But you’ve seen the glimpses of the old Corbin here and there lately, and tonight was back to the 2019 Corbin that I know. So it was fun to see, and he threw a hell of a game.”

The year 2019 is often mentioned when it comes to Corbin for the difference between his performances in the championship-winning season versus those that have followed. With the win over the Pirates, Corbin’s record stands at 4-10 with a 6.06 ERA, the lowest it has been since May 10.

“He's been one of the guys since he's been here -- and I’ve always felt that way, no matter what kind of outing he has,” Martinez said. “Without him, we wouldn't have done what we did in ‘19. I know he struggled, but I really believe that he’s got the stuff to continue to be really good, and you saw it today.”