by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
After there had been concerns about Patrick Corbin, having posted three straight months of ERAs north of 3.50, he’s suddenly rediscovered his footing since the All-Star Break. Over his first six starts all he’s done is post a 2.97 ERA and 0.93 WHIP as he continues to show all of the skills we look for from any pitcher:
- Strikeouts – 11.07 K/9
- Control – 0.54 BB/9
- Groundballs – 50.0%
The strikeouts (10.99 K/9) and groundballs (48.6%) have been fairly consistent all year long. While the control has been nearly elite, we all know it’s not going to continue at quite this level but his overall 2.14 BB/9 is more than enough. So what’s changed to ease any concerns? Why is he suddenly looking like the elite starter he did in April? A significant drop in the quality of contact against him (Hard%) obviously makes a difference:
- First Half – 43.1%
- Second Half – 34.5%
Despite the drop in his Hard% he’s actually been unlucky, with a second half BABIP of .345 and strand rate of 64.5%. That only adds to the appeal, because it shows that he can continue to post this type of ERA/WHIP even once the control regresses and he gives up the occasional home run (he has yet to allow one in the second half).
He has altered his approach, at least slightly, increasing his usage in his fourseam fastball and slider:
|Pre All-Star Break||19.65%||29.72%||10.18%||39.03%||1.42%|
|Post All-Star Break||23.80%||25.08%||7.24%||43.27%||1.01%|
Throwing his slider even more is likely the key to his success, because opponents have failed to make good contact against the pitch all season (.145 BAA, .248 SLG). With those types of marks, the more he throws it (even if it’s just a marginal increase) the more success he’s likely to have.
Obviously he may not be quite this good (especially in his WHIP), but there is little reason to question the stuff Corbin brings to the table and his ability to post strong results. Could there be a stumble from time-to-time? Absolutely, but more times than not expect him to post strong numbers. A true breakout in 2018, Corbin is quickly emerging as one of the Top 15-20 starters in baseball.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball