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Patrick Corbin Is Having One Of The Worst Seasons We've Ever Seen By A Starting Pitcher

Before I get into the gory details about Corbin's season, let me say that the dude has had an excellent career. He earned the big contract the Nationals gave him following the 2018 season. And while he struggled a bit in the postseason back in 2019, his three scoreless frames in Game 7 of the World Series were the stuff of legends. The Nationals have a 2019 World Series banner in large part because of his contributions. I don't want this blog to come across as mean-spirited. The last thing I want to do is kick someone who is down. I'm not angry at Corbin, but I am fascinated. Sometimes the stars align, and a team is stuck with a pitcher going nowhere. That's what's happening to Corbin and the Nats in 2022. 

I need to set some ground rules here. When I say "worst season," I mean worst season by someone who has contributed for the entire year. You could point to any random AAAA starter who pitched five games and got rocked, but I'm limiting it to pitchers who threw a fair amount of innings. I'm limiting it to the "modern age." I consider the modern age to be the last 25 years. Corbin currently has 110.1 innings pitched. So I did a deep dive into pitchers who have thrown at least 110 innings in a season since 1997. Only Colby Lewis in 2003 (7.30 ERA) and Scott Elarton in 2001 (7.06 ERA) put up higher ERAs than what Corbin is putting up right now. Colby Lewis bizarrely went 10-9 in 2003, once again proving that wins and losses are a meaningless statistic when ranking the effectiveness of a pitcher. Both Lewis and Elarton had a -1.3 bWAR that season, which is nearly twice as good as the -2.5 bWAR that Corbin is currently rocking. Even though pitch data wasn't around back in 2001 and 2003, I can't imagine Lewis and Elarton's would've been worse than Corbin's.


For the sake of fairness, it's only fitting to admit that SOME of Corbin's advanced numbers would suggest that he hasn't been nearly as bad as we make him out to be. His FIP, which considers what a pitcher's ERA would be if they got league average results on balls put in play, sits at 4.96. While that is by no means good, it is substantially better than Lewis' 2003 season and Elarton's 2001 campaign. And because I am a Tigers fan, I feel like I wouldn't be doing my job right if I didn't point out that Jordan Zimmermann's 2019 campaign probably deserves some love here as far as the worst seasons of the modern age. He went 1-13 that year with a 6.91 ERA, though he still put up better numbers than Corbin has. 

Even though I'm spending most of this blog pointing out how bad Corbin has been this season, you can't help but feel for him. It's why I respect athletes so much. The guy has gone out at ate his lunch on the mound every 5th day, and yet he just keeps grinding for one of the worst teams of recent memory. While he's currently having one of the worst seasons by a starter we've seen in a minute, I hope it doesn't stay that way. I hope Corbin throws seven scoreless in late September and knocks a team out of playoff contention. I hope the misery ends for him at some point. But right now, he's in the midst of one of the worst seasons we've ever seen by a starting pitcher.