- The Washington Times
Tuesday, October 4, 2022

After most of his starts this season — the good and the bad — Nationals starting pitcher Patrick Corbin said the same thing: “I felt good.”

The problem for the Nationals is that the results were hardly as good as Corbin says he felt. 

For the last three seasons, Corbin has been one of the worst starters in the major leagues. But his 2022 campaign, which ended Sunday with a loss to the Phillies, is one of the worst statistical seasons from a starting pitcher in MLB history.

Corbin is only the fifth pitcher to lose 19 games in a season with an earned run average north of 6.00 since 1900. The last time a major league pitcher lost 19 games with an ERA over 6.00 was in 2000. 

But Corbin’s 6-19 record and 6.31 ERA are far from the scariest numbers for the Nationals. The frightening figures are the $24 million and $35 million salaries that Corbin is still owed in 2023 and 2024. 

Despite Corbin leading the big leagues in earned runs for the second straight season, Nationals manager Dave Martinez still believes that the 33-year-old southpaw can regain his form. 

“I’ve got a good feeling that next spring, we’ll get him, he comes in, he’s in shape, he gets ready, that we’ll see a different Corbin — the Corbin that we saw in [2019],” Martinez said this week. 

The Nationals’ World Series-winning 2019 season was Corbin’s first in the District. The left-hander had come off a stellar year with the Diamondbacks and earned a six-year, $140 million contract with Washington. He lived up to the billing in his first season with the team. He posted a 14-7 record with a 3.25 ERA and was the winning pitcher in the Nationals’ Game 7 win over the Astros in the World Series. 

But he’s struggled mightily in the three seasons since his debut with the team. His pitches have been more hittable and his slider has lost its once-wicked bite. Since 2020, Corbin has a 17-42 record with a 5.82 ERA and a 1.574 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched).

He allowed the most hits in the National League in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. In 2021, his 16 losses were tied for the most in the NL, while his 37 home runs allowed were the most in the Senior Circuit. 

Corbin said his goal for next season is the same as what Martinez’s is for him: “Just try to get back to who I know I can be.”

The regular season ends Wednesday, but Corbin is almost certain to end the campaign with the most losses (19), hits allowed (210) and earned runs (107) in the big leagues. 

The last major league pitcher to lose 19 games with an ERA over 6.00 was Omar Daal with the Diamondbacks and Phillies in 2000. The other three in the modern-era group that Corbin joined Sunday, according to MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, all occurred before the end of World War II: George Caster in 1940, Elon Hogsett in 1937 and Pat Caraway in 1931. 

“Being more consistent,” Corbin said on how he can improve. “Just try to be more competitive, throw quality pitches, maybe trying to finish guys when I get ahead of them with two strikes and keeping the ball in the ballpark. Just a combination of a lot. I think overall, it was a tough season, but [I’m] trying to learn from it and move on.”

It’s not all bad news for Corbin, though. He avoided the ignominious 20-loss mark thanks in part to a few missed starts in the second half of the season. He also showed improvements in August and September, including a solid stretch in which he allowed two runs or fewer in four of five outings. 

“The last five or six starts, he threw the ball well for us,” Martinez said. “I’m proud of him working all year long to get back to where we felt like he could compete and give us a chance to win the games, and he did that.”

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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