Nationals Baseball: Corhasbin

Friday, April 16, 2021


 Last night was bad.  Like really bad. Like one of the worst starts in Nationals history bad. Corbin was terrible in his first start but that was admittedly a weird situation where he'd was rushed in to start. I had set the bar at "not awful" for this one and he came in way under. Two innings pitched, 6 hits, 4 walks, 2 HBP, 3 homers.  He went only 2 innings yet threw 63 pitches. 

When it's THIS bad it's fine to look for a reason two starts in.  Medically wise I can't say anything. I don't know what he did or didn't have and what effect it has on him. I can tell you his pitches are slow. I can tell you he's not locating which means he throws his slider far less and his slider is his most effective pitch. But the problem isn't so much these blowouts. You have to believe the immenseness of this sucking is a fluke. The problem is this is how he pitched last year. Slow. Even if the flukes go away the Nats are left with a 4.00-4.50 ERA pitcher. 

The Nats have a Big Three they are relying on. They need the combination of the three to be great. It can be Great - very good - very good, or great - great - good. Or Cy Young - very good - good. It doesn't matter exactly who does what but it needs to be a team carrying performance. If Corbin isn't at least good, and 4.25 wouldn't be good, then they need someone else to step in.  Maybe that can happen. Lester is a crafy vet. Ross has looked good. But then you have to take into account both Max and Stras have had off games this year and we're only 2 games in a piece. Early returns are very shaky on a Big Three good enough to do what they have to do.  

Have I mentioned that the Diamondbacks line-up is bad? Ketel Marte has been a beast this season but is on the IL leaving he Dbacks with a batting order that has AsCab as it's clean-up hitter and honestly he might be the best bat in there?  To be bad is one thing. To be bad against bad competition is another. 

So the next few days will be telling as both Max (tonight) and Stras (Sunday) get cracks at this line-up and at having more good starts this year than bad.  If both of them look very good or better ok. You can worry about Corbin but maybe the Nats will work it out. If one or both of them do not...

Meanwhile at the plate - I wasn't wrong. They could score on Kelly. Josh Harrison is super hot! I'm assuming they won't need 12 to win tonight.


Anonymous said...

This is a very alarming development. If this ends up as an albatross of a contract, the Nats will be feeling this pain for years.

Matt said...

If the Corbin contract goes bad, it would be yet another push (among many) for a substantial rebuild over the next few years.

Nattydread said...

The problem, always, with baseball is that we make too much of "noise" in a 162 game season. Notice that every day some record is broken and every game a player does something extraordinary that has never been done before. Its amazing the way commentators and sports writers dig up trivia so effectively. We read too much into these statistics and get mesmerized.

Surely, an 11-6 loss is not that big a deal. Happens every day --- and every day a pitcher gives up as many runs as Corbin did yesterday.

But we are talking about two pitchers with top-ten value MLB contracts, pitchers that are not supposed to be #4's or #5s. They are supposed to be aces, to be the players upon which the season is built. One mishap is a blip; two in a row and the train is off the tracks. So we watch closely.

In fact, very rarely do contracts turn out to be as profitable for a team as Scherzer's. More often, players under-perform or are over-paid --- and they turn into disappointments replaced by the next story of rebirth.

Being bad allowed the Nats to pick Harper and Stras and Rendon. And they lucked into Soto and Turner. For a decade now, they've been good and to stay in contention they must pay for talent, trade prospects and sort through the lower draft choices. Bad contracts get ugly.

Two data points do not make a year. Corbin and Strasburg are still their baseball cards. Absent injury, its rare for players to change dramatically overnight, more rare for two to do it at the same time. I'll bet that one --- or both --- revert to form in the next two weeks. Fingers crossed.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

I have much more faith in Stras righting the ship than I do in Corbin. Stras's issue has always been injuries. When he's healthy, he's always been lights out. Clearly something was off in his last start (see tunnel-gate), so as long as it's not bad, he'll get things right.

Corbin, however, had one great year in 2013, and then back to back great years in 2018 and 2019 when he really honed his breaking pitches. Since then, he seems to have lost his control, and based on the pitchf/x stats, it looks like it's because he's flattened his slider and not getting the drop he used to. Add in the fact that his FB/sinker velo went off a cliff, and he's just not an effective pitcher right now. Is that health? Mechanics? I don't know, but something changed after the World Series run

Ole PBN said...

Any concern about his FB velocity? I feel like being 89-90 is low for him.

Anonymous said...


The problem with Corbin is that he didn't change overnight; he was pretty bad last year and only had one great year before 2019. This might not be a blip.

I agree that Stras is likely to turn it around.

Harper said...

Matt - there's never a real push for a rebuild - JUST SPEND MORE. But it it something that conventionally could happen if two of these pitchers look mediocre to bad this year

ND - You are WAY underselling how bad that performance was. Taking out the ARI lineup - how often does a pitcher give up as many runs as Corbin? in 2019 it was all of 15 times. That's something like once every other week not once a day. (Game Score it was slightly more rare) It can happen to good pitchers though. Also it wouldnt' be overnight - Corbin looked bad last season as well. So all our recent data, while limited, says something is wrong.

Thing is about seasonal data points - you only can analyze what you have. You have two terrible starts. Is it possible for a good pitcher to do that? I bet so. But two terrible starts suggests more terrible ones to come - you can't treat every start as just a random point until it's undeniable.

For Stras this means leeway. He has a good start. He has nothing really from last year. Anything not outright terrible doesn't really move us.

Ole PBN - he's been around this slow and successful on the FB but his off speeds were faster. that may or may not be related. Usually a closer speed on pitches is better because it adds to batter confusion but I'd imagine movement/location is impt too

Matt said...

Harper -- hah, I knew that's how you'd reply! (I haven't been reading this blog for 12 years for no reason, I guess).

On some level, I agree, and it stinks as a fan to advocate for my team stinking. Plus, rebuilds are no sure thing.

On the other hand,
1) the owners seem to have some sort of de facto collusion going on about not paying the competitive balance tax, and if the Lerners refuse to do this it may get impossible to contend.
2) The Lerners' money is in real estate/shopping malls which aren't doing well right now. It's not clear to me that they'll even spend to the CBT the next few years even apart from point 1.
3) The NL east is a beast right now.
4) The pipeline is really running dry.

So, if I got to spend the Lerners' money how I'd like, then yeah spend away. I'm all for it. But if they're unwilling or unable to spend to the level needed, then I'd favor a rebuild over getting stuck in the combo of old-bad-expensive for half a decade.

Anonymous said...

We are on the verge of becoming the SF Giants (old, expensive, zero farm), and I'm not okay with that. They tried too hard to extend the "even year magic" and fell off a cliff with no resurgence in sight. I'd much rather sell off and rebuild, suck for 2-3 years, and then be competitive again rather than just have an extended period of mediocrity, which is what the Nats are looking at

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

Well we’re in worst case scenario territory. Suero oblique strain, Avilan UCL tear, and now Stras with shoulder inflammation. One more injury and the Nats are going to have to make a move. Why do the nats have such an awful training staff??

Robot said...

Yeah, this got bad real fast

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