If the Washington Nationals want to have a successful 2022 season, they’re going to need much more from their starting pitchers than we saw in the second half of last season. After the deadline, Washington’s starters were consistently going four or five innings, surrendering four or more runs a game.
Baseball might be turning towards more of an offensive game, but that’s absolutely not a winning formula.
If Washington’s starting rotation is going to exceed expectations, left-hander Patrick Corbin is going to have to lead the way. With all that has gone wrong the past two years, it’s hard to believe Corbin is just two years removed from a season in which he went 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA and finished eleventh in N.L. Cy Young voting.
Corbin’s numbers since 2019 have been so bad it’s almost shocking to see. In 2020, the lefty went 2-7 with a 4.66 ERA, giving up the most hits in baseball at 85, and having the highest BAA at .308. In 2021, things somehow got even worse. Corbin struggled to the tune of a career-worst 5.82 ERA, losing a league-high 16 starts, and giving up the most ER (111) and HR (37) of any pitcher in the league.
Despite all his struggles the past two seasons, the veteran lefty remains confident he can turn things around this year. Corbin spoke to reporters last week about turning the page on 2020 and 2021 and looking ahead to the future. Quote via The Washington Post.
“Looking back on last year and the year before, I think I definitely struggled for sure, and it’s something that I just want to forget and throw away,” Corbin said. “Honestly, I’m here, I feel good, and I know what I’m capable of doing. So I’m not really thinking about that.
“As simple as it is, I’m just trying to get back to what I’ve done well for those many years. Commanding the fastball, throwing to both sides of the plate with that and using my slider off of it. I feel really good where I’m at now. Even in bullpens, just repeating the delivery a little bit more, focusing on that, trying to get my arm angle down a little bit. Just kind of small things like that that I think will help.”
It’s one thing to be confident you can regain your form, it’s a whole other thing to go out there and actually do it. With the money the Nationals are paying Corbin over the course of the next three seasons, his ability to turn things around won’t just impact the team’s overall success this season, it likely will have a direct impact on the long-term future of the franchise.
The Nationals don’t need Corbin to even be the guy he was in 2019, they simply need him to be a serviceable #2 starter, and not one of the worst pitchers in baseball like he’s been the past two seasons. If Corbin can give them 200 or so innings and keep an ERA around 3.80-4.00, that would be seen as a success.
All in all, if the Nationals starting rotation is going to succeed this season, Patrick Corbin will have to play a big role by flipping the switch and regaining his old form.