Nationals Baseball: Patrick Hasbeen, Patrick Corpse-bin, Patrick NoMore-bin, Patrick TheyScore-bin

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Patrick Hasbeen, Patrick Corpse-bin, Patrick NoMore-bin, Patrick TheyScore-bin

Splatrick Corbin, Doormatrick Corbin, Fall Flattrick Corbin, BadQuick Corbin, PatSick Corbin, Matchstick Corbin. 

Come up with your own! 

We've definitely talked about the fact that Corbin has been bad.  We've speculated on the ideas why - in fact I harped on one (pun INtended) for a good part of the 2019 post-season - the starters arms were worked very hard.

Highest IP total going into 2019 : IP in 2019

Strasburg  220 in 2014 : 245.1

Corbin  208 in 2013 :  225.1

Max missed games mid season with injury AND is a hoss who threw seasons of 220, 228, 228, 220 four of the five seasons before 2019 so it doesn't count as much for him but it did seem to break Strasburg and Corbin. It is probably this simple. 

However, we haven't talked much about the nuts and bolts of why, like what's different in his pitching. 

Now part of it is his 2018 and 2019 might have been flukes. the numbers he put up there for K-rate were well higher than it was before and after. Was it better movement? Location? Sequence? Don't know, not going to bother going into it.  I think that Corbin was peak Corbin and would have been gone by now anyway.  What I'm interested in is why Corbin isn't pre-2018 Corbin.  Why isn't he putting up a 4.00 ERA and filling a role as decent veteran innings eater that a team like this dearly needs. What is different from "pre-peak" Corbin?

We can nitpick apart some things. His pitches might be a bit slower, he might be a bit wilder, and he might be prone to more flyballs. The first two mean more hard hit balls, the latter mean more of those hard hit balls are homers. But these are very minor changes from pre-peak Corbin. 

No, instead it comes down to a single pitch. His slider. None of his pitches were very effective before his peak except his slider. That's what made him good. His slider is no longer effective. 

Pre-peak he threw a slider for a ball 35% of the time, now it's 38%.  He'd get swings and misses 26% of the time, now it's 20%.

You can see from the awesome Brooks Baseball that his slider has almost no drop to it anymore. It's dead flat. There's also less horizontal movement but only in general. (This IS hard to read sorry - the middle of that Y-AXIS is 0 movement with above being movement up and below movement down.  The dots are grouped by year. It was dropping about 2 inches up through 2019 then has flattened out to about 1 inch the past couple of years and almost none this year)

Without that movement guys aren't swinging and missing at the slider nearly as much as they need to for Corbin to be any good. For him to miss the zone and not be hittable it has to start out of the zone. Guys see it's a ball right away. The ones in the zone aren't moving out, and guys are making contact with them. 

As Corbin has no other plus pitch, in fact you could argue that every other pitch is a minus, he now needs to PITCH his way through games to be effective. He needs to mix location and speeds and types of pitches to keep guys off balance. That's never been his game though. He's been a guy that threw some fastballs to keep hitters honest and set up that slider.  He's been a guy who if things got rough he could lean on that slider to get him out of the jam.  That's just not the case anymore. 

Part of it I'm sure is the failure of the fastball. It's floating up and in the zone making it a worse pitch and causing less confusion with the slider, but the differences there don't seem as stark. The plus slider has left Corbin and without it he's hardly a major league pitcher.


Lou said...

This makes a lot of sense. Just from watching, guys just seem to spit on the slider rather than chase. What I don't get is what would cause him to lose the slider that completely? If he's healthy, doesn't it have to be something mechanical? And shouldn't that be fixable?

Harper said...

So no one can throw the same pitch with the same effectiveness forever. The ability to put the right spin on it and force behind it are things the arm loses the ability to do over time. It's why we don't have 60 year old pitchers. It's possible his arm is just "aged" to the point he can't do it anymore. That's one theory and it presents no real solution besides a long rest period hoping to build back the original arm because the typical offseason is not enough.

He might have subtly changed release point or timing or grip or landing or etc. That's fixable and on the pitching coach. But so far correction has eluded them. There was a good piece in the post about fixing Corbin

and they seem to be focused on location and speed, which makes sense because in a way they are easier things to fix. We've got enough data though to suggest it's movement.

chris_bly said...

A lot of the decline in his slider predates the crackdown on illegal substances, but the loss in his feel for that pitch really makes me wonder if the crackdown has prevented any rebound. Could at least be a confounding factor along with post-2019 fatigue/wear.

billyhacker said...

Agree with Chris that it's worth looking at the tacky substances issue, though the slow steady decline in drop is more consistent with a gradual deterioration, like an arm problem.

Cautiously Pessimistic said...

To build off that, if you look at the month by month data, the vertical movement deteriorates throughout the year. Looking at spin rate, his slider has also dropped by about 10% (from ~2350-2400 at peak to >2200 now), with the most marked drop being from 2019 to 2020 (i.e. post WS run). Definitely just seems like an over-worked arm.

One thing of note on the slider, though, is that he's throwing it harder. His slider used to sit ~79 and now it's sitting at ~81. That's one thing that points to it possibly being mechanical and that he's sacrificing spin-rate to keep velo up? Same goes for the fastball, where spin rate has dropped but he's throwing faster than previous couple years?

dc rl said...

There was a piece in Fangraphs last August about Corbin. The analysis there was that his problem was release point on the slider, and the implication was that it was not a physical problem but a pitching mechanics problem that having been identified, could be esily fixed. I remember thinking, I hope someone in the Nats front office reads Fangraphs.

As its almost a year later and Corbin still hasn't been fixed, I guess the choices are: (1) they don't read Fangraphs; (2) that analysis was wrong; or (3) the mechanics problem really is related to a physical issue (whether stemming from overuse or age) and therefore isn't easily fixed.

Expos 1983 Blog said...

Why is Ehire Adrianza on a major league roster? Why?

kubla said...


He's got what it takes to make the Nats roster (a pulse).