Patrick Corbin has yet to be defeated since the All-Star break.
There is a phenomenal race going on between the Houston Astros and the Oakland A’s in the AL West, while the Arizona Diamondbacks are quietly going about their business in the NL, led by the ace of their staff, Patrick Corbin.
A free agent at the end of the season, the 29-year-old left-handed pitcher is setting himself up beautifully for a massive payday by dominating in all facets of the game. Since the All-Star break, Corbin is a perfect 4-0 with a 2.97 earned run average and unbelievable 0.93 WHIP.
What’s even more unbelievable is his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) over the month of August. His 2.66 ERA with 20.1 August innings under his belt is impressive, but his 0.80 FIP is downright nasty. Houston Astros starter Gerrit Cole leads the league in August FIP (0.76) but the next best performance after Corbin is Jacob deGrom’s 1.37 and Lance Lynn’s 1.56.
The slider continues to get better and better.
So, what exactly is making Patrick Corbin so effective since the All-Star break? Across 33-plus innings, he has yet to surrender a home run (11 given up in 122 innings pre-break) and has issued just two free passes, paired with 41 punchouts. His overall strikeout percentage has jumped from 30.4% to 32.3% while his walk rate has dropped from 7.1% to 1.6%, since the break.
His ground ball rate is up slightly to 50%, which is great, but it’s the quality of contact Corbin has been allowing since the break that is more notable. More than 43% of all batted balls were registered as “hard-contact” hits before the Mid-Summer Classic. That number is down to 34.5%.
Corbin isn’t throwing any of his five pitches any harder or more or less often, he’s just made his bread and butter pitch more effective, largely thanks to location, location, location.
Check out his slider heatmap from the first “half” of the season (left) to his slider heatmap from the second “half” of the season.
That’s a lot of sliders outside of the zone (second highest in chase rate and sixth-lowest out of zone contact percentage in the league). Since his July 23rd start, Corbin’s slider has produced a 14.1% swing and miss rate, second-highest in MLB. From the beginning of the season to July 23, he was at 11%.
This isn’t a fluke season or a stretch of good luck. Corbin’s production is the real deal. Take a look at these game-by-game velocity numbers of his fastball.
If you were to see such a drastic dip in velocity from any other pitcher, you would immediately ask yourself, what’s wrong with this guy? What sort of injury is causing this dip? Not with Patrick Corbin.
He is now 10-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, both of which are career lows. He’s also on pace to set career-lows in hits allowed, home runs allowed, earned runs given up and walks among all four seasons in which he has logged at least 150 innings. Already at 190 strikeouts (a career-high), Corbin should finish with well over 200 by the time the season ends.
The rest of the season will be brutal for the Diamondbacks. Outside of a few more games against the San Diego Padres, Arizona has series remaining against the Angels, Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Braves, Rockies, Astros and Cubs. I see a lot of playoff baseball teams on that list. Arizona will need Corbin to continue pitching as he has if they want to keep their current lead in the National League West.
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