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Arizona Diamondbacks Game Preview, #83: The Corbin conundrum

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While much of the concern has been aimed at Shelby Miller, he's not the only member of the rotation to be performing well short of expectations.

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Jeff Samardzija
RHP, 8-5, 3.91
Patrick Corbin
LHP, 4-6, 4.99
Gregor Blanco - CF Jean Segura - SS
Angel Pagan - LF Michael Bourn - CF
Brandon Belt - 1B Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Buster Posey - C Jake Lamb - 3B
Brandon Crawford - SS Welington Castillo - C
Mac Williamson - RF Chris Herrmann - LF
Grant Green - 2B Yasmany Tomas - RF
Ruben Tejada - 3B Phil Gosselin - 2B
Jeff Samardzija - RHP Patrick Corbin - LHP

If both Shelby Miller and Zack Greinke have failed to live up to expectations, you can argue that Patrick Corbin's 2016 performance has hardly been less disappointing. It was thought that 2015 would be a season of recovery, where the results could be underwhelming, as Patrick worked his way back after 21 months away from pitching in major-league games. It was expected he'd then be fully ready to take a spot as part of the Diamondbacks' triple-pronged spearhead for 2016. But let's compare the stats from last year and this. He has now made 16 starts, the same number as he made in 2015, after returning from Tommy John surgery.

W L ERA G IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP H9 HR9 BB9 SO9 SO/W
2015 6 5 3.60 16 85.0 91 34 34 9 17 78 113 3.35 1.271 9.6 1.0 1.8 8.3 4.59
2016 4 6 4.99 16 95.2 105 57 53 15 34 69 87 4.88 1.453 9.9 1.4 3.2 6.5 2.03

The ERA is 1.39 runs worse than last year, and he can hardly be said to have been unlucky, with the FIP ballooning by over one and half runs. The actual number if hits hasn't changed very much: that has only increased by about 2.5% over 2015. The main problem is a walk-rate that has exploded by 78%, and a home-run rate that's almost 48% higher than it was. It's a brutal combination, meaning more base-runners, and also that they have a bigger chance of these then trotting around the bags in front of a a home-run hitter. Corbin's strikeout rate is also very much down on his "rehab rate".

There isn't very much difference in his velocity, though it has dropped slightly. Last year, his fast-ball averaged 92.3 mph, this season it's 91.6. What's interesting is that his change-up has gone the other way, increasing from 83.3 to 84.9 mph. It's the difference between those two pitches which is generally regarded as important in their effect, and for Corbin, that's dropped from 9.0 mph to 6.7 mph. He's also throwing a lot more change-ups: 5% in 2015, has become 12% in 2016. Is this the Mike Butcher effect? A desire to stay away from his slider for health reasons? Hard to say. But whatever the reason for the change, it doesn't seem to be working.