Arizona Diamondbacks look for crucial series win behind red hot Patrick Corbin

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 27: Arizona Diamondbacks fans cheer as Patrick Corbin
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 27: Arizona Diamondbacks fans cheer as Patrick Corbin /

Arizona Diamondbacks left-handed starter Patrick Corbin is the best pitcher in baseball right now

If the Colorado Rockies were hoping to catch a break and shave into the Arizona Diamondbacks wild card lead, they can keep on dreaming.

In a “what have you done for me lately,” Patrick Corbin is passing with flying colors. “Corby” is arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now. There I said it.

Argue this point with me all day, but the numbers do not lie. Over his last four starts, Corbin is 4-0 with a 0.30 ERA (1 ER/30.1 IP) with 29 strikeouts against five walks. Opposing batters are hitting a minuscule .171 against him with a .438 OPS.

I would say that is pretty solid, but as American inventor and marketing personality, Ron Popeil would say, “But wait, there’s more!”

Over his last five starts, the 28-year-old southpaw’s 0.99 ERA is the best in the majors, ahead of Chicago Cubs’ right-hander Jake Arrieta (1.19) and Cleveland Indians’ righty Corey Kluber (1.96). His 1.4 Fangraphs WAR trails only Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (1.7) and that is with one more start.

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So what has allowed Corbin to turn around his season and step up when his team needs it?

For starters, getting ahead in the count more tends to help. This season, Corbin is throwing a first-pitch strike more than 64 percent of the time. During this hot streak, the southpaw has mentioned getting ahead in the count multiple times as a key to success.

In previous seasons and even earlier this year, Corbin got burned by relying heavily on his fastball and slider. A two-pitch mix will not fool big league hitters the second and third time through the lineup.

It appears Corbin has figured that out. During his great run, he has mixed in a “new” hybrid pitch. This “new” pitch is the same grip as his slider, but slower. This allows Corbin to change speeds and give hitters something additional to think about.

Corbin has also incorporated more change-ups and curveballs. He said the slower curveball/slider hybrid works against righties and lefties.

Right now everything is working for the lefty. The Diamondbacks could use another dandy performance from Corbin against the Rockies at 5:10 p.m. tonight.

With a win, Arizona would clinch the series and move 5.5 games ahead of Colorado for the first N.L. wild card spot.

Corbin, who will match up with Colorado RHP Jon Gray (6-3, 4.18 ERA), did not fare well in his only start at Coors Field this season on May 6. He lasted just four innings and allowed eight runs. Corbin has held Nolan Arenado to a .188 batting average, but DJ LeMathieu and Johnathan Lucroy have hit him hard.

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