WASHINGTON — Four starts into the 2022 season, Patrick Corbin is in the same place he’s been each of the last two seasons: on the losing end of baseball games.
The left-hander started Friday against the San Francisco Giants and didn’t make it past the second inning, allowing seven runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts. He was tagged with the loss, his third of the year and 26th since 2020 — most in MLB over that span. It’s been a disappointing stretch for both Corbin and the Nationals, who invested $140 million over six years in him ahead of the 2019 season.
“Bullpen before the game, I felt really good,” Corbin said. “Coming out in that first inning, I thought it was the best it’s been velocity-wise and stuff-wise was I think the best that I’ve had up to this point…just putting too many guys on base, not making pitches, not getting ahead of guys and staying on the attack. Just obviously been frustrating, just trying to do everything I can to talk to whoever, try to figure out how to get better.”
San Francisco scored all seven of its runs in the second, including three on a home run to right field off the bat of Austin Slater. It was the first home run Corbin allowed this season, a feat he had managed to sustain over his first three starts despite shaky results. Manager Davey Martinez has emphasized multiple times that Corbin is at his best when he pitches low and most of the pitches he did allow hits on were in the middle of the strike zone or higher.
“I thought he was just up in the zone,” Martinez said. “He got the first two outs, balls were moving good, sliders were down, fastball was down and then everything started getting elevated. When he throws the ball up there, he loses that sink so the ball becomes flat.”
Corbin, who now has an 11.20 ERA on the season, exited the game with more questions than answers. The Nationals made him their Opening Day starter by necessity with Stephen Strasburg still working his way back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, but both Martinez and GM Mike Rizzo expressed their confidence in Corbin’s ability to return to form.
Washington plans to continue trotting him out every five days and letting him work through his struggles. Its rotation is already down Strasburg, Joe Ross (elbow) and Aníbal Sánchez (neck) while Josiah Gray is the only starter with a sub-4.00 ERA. Top prospect Cade Cavalli, who skipped a start this week for undisclosed reasons but will pitch Sunday in Triple-A Rochester, still has some work to do in the minors before the Nationals call him up.
Coming out of spring training, Corbin’s plan for doing so centered on harnessing his rediscovered velocity and controlling his fastball to better set up his slider. He’s far from pleased with the results so far and plans to keep digging to find a solution.
“[I’m] obviously upset just kinda how a lot of this has been playing out,” Corbin said. “But you gotta 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. Really still searching a little bit but I’ll come in tomorrow like I do every day and try to get better.”