August 13, 2022

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Corbin's strong outing a silver lining for Nats

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WASHINGTON — After pitching only 1 2/3 innings in his last start and dropping to 0-3 on the season, Patrick Corbin had adjustments to make before his next outing.

“Obviously, upset just by how a lot of this has been playing out,” Corbin said Friday following a loss to the Giants. “But you’ve got to move on, try to focus on the next pitch. I’m pissed. I’m upset. I’m trying to do everything I can to get better, and really just still searching a little bit.”

Manager Dave Martinez has been emphasizing that Corbin can return to 2019 form, when he helped the Nationals win it all before encountering two straight years of struggles. In spite of the Nats dropping their eighth straight in a 3-2 loss to the Marlins on Thursday at Nationals Park, Corbin’s performance could be the turning point he needs. 

The southpaw recorded a season-high eight strikeouts while allowing three runs (two earned) off four hits and two walks in six-plus innings. He lowered his ERA from 11.20 to 8.69.

“I tried to simplify and get back to my slider, I thought that was really good today,” Corbin said. “We threw a bunch of changeups, I was in the zone a lot more. I think overall, just a lot of positives to take away.”

Corbin was in command early in the matinee outing. After allowing a leadoff walk in the first inning to Jon Berti, he retired the next five batters to set the tone for his strongest outing of the season. Corbin threw a sinker and slider-heavy mix, and worked his slider to induce seven whiffs. In total, he delivered 62 of his 90 pitches for strikes.

“He threw the ball really well today,” Martinez said. “If he could repeat that in five days, that’d be awesome.”

Corbin was unsettled by how his afternoon ended, though. Back on the mound for the seventh, he hit Miguel Rojas in the flap of his helmet with an 88.5 mph fastball. The errant pitch sent Rojas to the ground, and Corbin also immediately dropped to his knees as Rojas was checked by the Marlins medical staff. Rojas initially stayed in the game and was later diagnosed with a jaw contusion, while concussion test results are pending.

“That’s the one thing, you’re hoping he’s OK,” Corbin said. “It’s tough. You never, obviously, want something like that to happen. I believe that’s the first time it’s happened to me, and it kind of just shocked me a little bit to see that. But he gave me the thumbs up kind of when I was walking off. 

“[It’s] just scary when you come set, especially throwing a four-seam inside there, and he squares around, you lose your visual, your sight a little bit. Sometimes your mechanics change where you’re trying to get the ball in. I think that’s just one of those cases.”

Corbin was relieved by Víctor Arano, marking the end of his longest outing of the season. 

“He was rattled, so I kind of wanted to get him to calm down a little bit,” said Martinez, who planned to call Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “It’s a scary situation. … You never want to see anybody get hit, especially in the head.” 

Corbin will look at the pitches he landed, and those he missed, too, to continue to pursue his first win of 2022 in his next start.

“Sinkers down away, mix in every now and then inside, throw his breaking balls like he did today and his changeup was good,” Martinez said of Corbin’s keys to success. “He had three good pitches. If he can continue to do that, he’s going to be just fine.”

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