January 29, 2023

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Corbin finding success with Adams catching

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WASHINGTON — There are the lessons learned from listening in on meetings, the conversations had between frames and the adjustments made during a game that all play a role in the growing success with left-hander Patrick Corbin and catcher Riley Adams working together.

Adams was behind the plate for a third consecutive Corbin start on Tuesday, as the left-hander tossed five scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Mets. Corbin allowed three hits and four walks while recording five strikeouts over 86 pitches (51 strikes) in Washington’s 4-2 loss at Nationals Park.

“I love what they’re doing,” manager Dave Martinez said. “Riley really has taken charge with him. … They’re working good together. I like it.”

Of Corbin’s seven starts this season, everyday catcher Keibert Ruiz has caught three, Adams four. While Martinez “absolutely [believes] that Keibert can catch Corbin as well,” he is pleased with how this tandem continues to develop and perform. Corbin has posted a 2.37 ERA with five earned runs over 19 innings across his last three starts as he pursues his first win of the season.

“We had a little bit of struggles here and there with that fastball command, but I thought he really grinded through some innings and got out of some tight jams,” said Adams, who belted a solo homer in the fifth inning. “A couple innings with some guys in traffic, and he was able to make the right pitches to get out of it. I thought he threw the ball really, really well. His slider was great, got a couple weak contact with the changeup, too, so overall, he looked really, really good.”

Adams, who was acquired at the 2021 Trade Deadline from the Blue Jays, only caught Corbin once last season — a 6 1/3-inning win with seven strikeouts over the Brewers on Aug. 20. After that, Corbin doesn’t even recall working with Adams during Spring Training. Martinez initially was hesitant with the pairing because of Corbin’s frequency of sliders in the dirt, but Adams has alleviated that concern. On Tuesday, Corbin threw a pitch mix of 49% sinkers, 34% sliders, 14% four-seam fastballs and 3% changeups.

“Tonight, he was good again,” Corbin said of Adams. “I think we kind of both saw that the four-seam fastball inside, I wasn’t able to locate that all night, so he was kind of mixing it up, going to some more two-seamers, things like that. The more and more you throw to them, you feel comfortable. He’s been great.”

There is much more than calling pitches that goes into a successful batterymate relationship. Martinez has been impressed by how Adams, 25, approaches his catching duties. He stays ready on nights he is not playing and picks Ruiz’s brain for advice when Ruiz is getting the start. In the dugout on game days, Riley seeks insight from pitching coach Jim Hickey and strategizes with Corbin before heading back out on the field.

“I’m just trying to go out there and learn from him and try to follow him,” Adams said of Corbin. “He’s obviously had a ton of success up here, so I’m trying to learn from him more than anything else and just follow his lead.”

Corbin has taken steps in the right direction after his ERA jumped to 11.20 following a 1 2/3-inning outing against the Giants on April 22. His last three outings have included his highest strikeout total of the season (eight vs. Miami on April 28), his longest start of the season and his sixth career complete game (last Wednesday at Colorado) and his first scoreless start since Sept. 23, 2021, on Tuesday.

Said Martinez, “I think he’s in a good spot.”

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