Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks said lack of fastball command was a factor in his demotion from a starter
Easily traversing through spring training hitters a year ago, Corbin sliced through the competition like that hot knife through butter. Pundits agreed Corbin was back to his All-Star self and to the level of the season in which he won 14-8 in 2013. Despite missing the 2014 and part of the 2015 season with Tommy John surgery and recovery, Corbin appeared ready to regain his lost stature.
In his effort to climb back into the rotation conversation, Corbin was lights-out in 2016 spring games. In five appearances, Corbin went 2-0 with a sparkling 1.71 ERA.
Then, the bottom fell out at the time of the All-Star break.
Starting against the Giants at Chase Field on July 2, Corbin lasted 5.1 innings, allowed five hits, five runs and tossed 93 pitches. After walking Buster Posey and Mac Williamson in the sixth, then manager Chip Hale pulled the plug and Corbin departed for the showers.
Afterward, Corbin told reporters he had more in the tank and wanted to remain in the game. Hale had other ideas, and the discourse ran public. During his daily meeting with the media the next day, Hale was asked about the verbal conflict with Corbin and simply said, “it’s in house and we’ve talked.” On Aug. 14, Corbin was banished to the bullpen.
From the All-Star game until the end of the season, Corbin was left to a mop-up role in the bullpen and light-years away from the splendor of his 2013 season. The bottom line was a less than productive 5-13 season with a 5.15 ERA for 24 starts and 36 appearances.
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Now with a rotation spot up for grabs, Corbin says he relishes the competition with Archie Bradley, Shelby Miller and Taijuan Walker for the attention of Torey Lovullo, the Diamondback’s field manager.
“The issue last year was fastball command, and I worked on that aspect of my game,” Corbin said in the Diamondbacks’ Salt River clubhouse. “I took the end of last season very seriously, and I’m excited about getting out there again.”
Corbin dispelled the notion his Tommy John surgery from March 2014 influenced subsequent results. A fastball clocked in the mid-90s and a change to keep any hitter off-balance, Corbin began missing with his heater, and that caused the demise. Now, he’s clearly focused.
“I’m confident about the season ahead, and not talking at all about last season,” he said. “Yes, I’m ready to go and be part of this rotation.”
Working in a result-now business, Corbin can’t live in the past. The record of 2013 represents an indication of capability, but execution remains the key to any triumph. Despite success in spring games a year ago, Corbin dropped his opening game (a 4-3 decision to Colorado at home on April 6) and fell through the ice immediately thereafter.
To redeem his character, direction, and course, Corbin says he is ready to exorcise ghosts of the past and attack the competition.
“I want to make it tough on them,” he said of decision-makers who will decide the five-man rotation. “I’m excited to get things started.”