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
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