Game #72 It’s time; Corbin must lead his team!

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When the Nationals ownership group greenlighted $140 million in the off-season to sign the top free agent pitcher, Patrick Corbin‘s deal was finalized by general manager Mike Rizzo in what was a surprise to many who were convinced he was heading to the Yankees or Phillies who vowed to spend “stupid money”.  For Corbin, he would start the Nats portion of his career looking like the ace the Nats paid the big bucks for. On Corbin’s 11th start for his new team, he would throw a complete game shutout to lower his ERA to 2.85 — but that is also where the controversy starts. Was it necessary to have pushed Corbin to another high pitch count? In his first 5-games in May, he threw 547 pitches in that span including counts of 107, 108, 116, and 118 pitches with an average of 109.4 pitches per start. The problem is Corbin’s previous 3-starts he is 0-3 with an 11.37 ERA and 12 2/3 innings completed. Not only has Corbin pitched poorly, but he has also stressed his bullpen to cover more innings than he pitched.

For three games in a row, we have heard excuses on what is wrong with Corbin that it is all mechanical according to the player himself. He has been asked if it is arm fatigue, and the lefty has denied it. Corbin’s heaviest usage last year was an 108-pitch game, and his highest usage over 5-games was July 10 – August 3rd with 504 pitches which had the extra rest of the All-Star break and he only averaged 100.8 pitches in that span.

Maybe this is not about use and usage, and by now Corbin’s arm should be fine as he has not pitched a lot in the past two weeks plus he has received extra rest days. We have examined his release points on his different pitches and that is not the issue as they are in a tight radius. Is Corbin tipping his pitches? Maybe or maybe he has become too predictable in his pitch sequencing. But if you look at Corbin’s last start he got eight swing and misses on his slider. If he did not give up that grand slam with two outs in the first inning, the rest of Corbin’s game looked quite good at times. In today’s game, he needs to trust his stuff and have a shutdown first inning to get his outing going, and he will probably face a lineup of Cesar Hernandez, Segura, Harper, Hoskins, Realmuto, Kingery, Franco and Williams in some order that could look like that with plenty of right-handed batters.

“Obviously we all know who we’re playing,” manager Dave Martinez said. “They’re ahead of us and we just got to worry about tomorrow. Keep playing like we’re playing.”

Actually, you have to play even better than you have been playing Mr. Martinez. From the manager to the players, they know these next seven days are probably going to define this 2019 season. All of the disappointments up through June 15th, could be wiped clean on the slate if the Nationals could put together their best baseball for these seven games.

“Having two division rivals coming in, we got to protect our home turf and keep playing the baseball that we’ve been playing,” first baseman Matt Adams said. “I think everything’s clicking right now.”

Matt Adams smashed two home runs yesterday for seven RBIs, and Adam Eaton had a perfect day getting on-base all five times with three hits.

“Play good baseball and not beat ourselves,” Eaton said. “If we play the brand of baseball we know how to play, and play clean, we have a good chance.”

Of course, you play the games one at a time, and it all starts tonight with Corbin. He will match-up with the right-hander Jake Arrieta who is not having a good season with his 4.31 ERA and 6.75 in June. The Phillies just got spanked in their series with the Braves, and they got crushed with a final score of 15-1 yesterday, and they used up both of their long-men with Cole Irvin throwing 71-pitches and Jerad Eickhoff threw 39. It is possible the Phillies make a roster move before today’s game. The Phillies lost Andrew McCutchen for the season, and Jay Bruce just tweaked his hamstring, and J.T. Realmuto sat out yesterday with some pelvic pain.

Since May 24th, this Washington Nationals team has played to a .667 winning percentage at 14-7. The breakdown of the team wins has Anibal Sanchez at 4, Max Scherzer at 3, Stephen Strasburg at 3, Erick Fedde at 2, and Kyle McGowin and Corbin have 1 each. That is the breakdown of the 14 wins. The 7 losses has 3 to Corbin, 2 to the bullpen, and 1 each to Strasburg and Fedde.

If the Nats stay on this .667 pace the rest of the season, they win 93 games. A .604 pace the rest of the way puts the team at 88 wins and that seems to be the number that could win the NL East if the Braves cooldown.

This week’s match-ups are:

  • Monday: Arrieta vs. Corbin
  • Tuesday: Eflin vs. Fedde
  • Wednesday: Pivetta vs. Scherzer
  • Thursday: Nola vs. Strasburg
  • Friday: Foltynewicz vs. Sanchez
  • Saturday: Soroka vs. Corbin
  • Sunday: Teheran vs. Fedde

The Braves rotation of course could change if Dallas Keuchel is added to their rotation on Friday per the rumors.

Fangraphs WAR for games through 6/16/2019

Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals
Stadium:   Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch:  7:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN,  NBC Sports Philadelphia, MLB.TV
Nats Radio: 106.7 FM The Fan; SiriusXM® ( Streaming Internet 869)

Line-up subject to change (without notice):

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