Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Why Now Is Not The Time To Give Up On Patrick Corbin

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There was a lot of hype heading into the season for Patrick Corbin, and understandably so.  After missing all of 2014 he had a successful return in 2015, posting a 3.60 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over 85.0 IP.  Even more impressive was that he showed both strikeouts (8.26 K/9) and control (1.80 BB/9).

However, much like Matt Harvey and his struggles it has been a poor season for Corbin in his second year back.  While the problems weren’t quite as dramatic, yesterday’s blowup makes them look that much more discouraging (4.96 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) and there are obvious reason to be concerned:

Strikeouts – 6.47 K/9
His SwStr% is down, at 8.7% (10.0% for his career).  While his slider is still acting like a put away pitch, with a 22.01% Whiff% (prior to yesterday), he’s actually throwing it less than he did a year ago:

  • 2015 – 29.0%
  • 2016 – 22.2%

He also once generated swings and misses with his changeup, though not this season (7.76% Whiff%).  Maybe altering his approach on the mound will help to increase his strikeouts, though time will tell.

Control – 2.89 BB/9
It’s obviously still a good number, though it’s up from what he’s shown before (2.24 career BB/9).  He’s simply not fooling people, with a 27.7% O-Swing% (which also helps to explain the decrease in strikeouts).  It makes sense, less chasing outside the strike zone leads to an increased walk rate.

Home Runs – 1.52 HR/9
On the surface it would seem like this is an aberration, considering his batted ball profile:

  • Groundballs – 52.2%
  • Fly Balls – 28.5%

However the average distance on the fly balls and home runs he’s allowed is 301.29 (prior to last night), ranking him in the Top 20 of the league.  That would at least give the impression that the issue isn’t going to disappear any time soon.  Of course, a lot of his problems have come at home:

  • Home – 7.94 ERA, 2.86 HR/9
  • Road – 2.68 ERA, 0.49 HR/9

Conclusion
Obviously we aren’t willing to simply overlook his flaws and, at least for now, it appears that he can only be started while on the road.  That said, while the distance of the home runs that he’s allowed is obviously a concern, with his groundball rate we’d expect that number to improve.  You also have to wonder if a slight change in approach (meaning a few more sliders) would change the overall results.  He’s shown a slight bump in usage in May (23.5% prior to last night) and that’s something that could easily continue.  In other words don’t lose hope and sell him on the cheap.  Things should improve and if you can acquire him for below market value it would be in your best interest.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Heat Maps

8 comments

  1. alps88 says:

    2 questions
    1-With King Felix on the DL
    who is the best option
    Eduardo Rodriguez
    Collin McHugh
    Jon Gray
    CC Sabathia
    2- Whoever is left would you pick them up and drop Fulmer
    I know he pitches tonight
    Thanks as always

    • CB says:

      I like Jon Gray there. Even if you only start him on the road, your probably looking at a 3.5 ERA, 1.15 WHIP 9+ K/9 pitcher who will nab you quality starts, though probably less in wins given Rockies hitters away from home.

  2. CB says:

    I just cut him today. I stuck with it, but he really is just a two pitch guy right now. His change-up is ineffective. The league has adjusted to him, and with him wanting to use his slider less I can’t see him being anything better than a streamer. I nabbed Jon Gray last week, and I see him having a bit more upside, even pitching at Coors.

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    alps88 – Definitely Gray for me. I’d probably stick Fulmer, but could make the case for McHugh

    CB – I do like Gray over Corbin right now, can’t argue with that, but I still see the upside in Corbin. Just a matter of him figuring it out

  4. Turn Two says:

    What’s your take on Cole. K’s are down, hits and walks are up. Watched him pitch the other day, and the best thing he did was hit a hr against Corbin.
    I have Cole this year and next for $15 in an NL Only Keeper 5×5 Roto. Do I hold or start looking to get some value from him in a trade now.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I actually just did a write up that’s going to go up on the site on Friday, but I’m not so quick to sell (especially at that price). The underlying numbers appear similar, so I’d expect a “bounce back”

  5. Timmy says:

    Hey prof who would you take out of Corbin Shoemaker and Fulmer ROS? Thx

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