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Arizona Diamondbacks All Time Top 50: #29, Patrick Corbin

Checking in at #29, the left-hander who just keeps coming back for more.

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres
  • Average Ranking (High/Low/Most Common): 28.44 (15/428/43)
  • Seasons: 2012 - current
  • Stats: 139 games, 121 starts, 745.2 IP, 4.12 ERA, 104 ERA+, 6.7 bWAR

Best season: 2013 - 32 games, 208.1 IP, 3.41 ERA, 113 ERA+, 2.8 bWAR

Patrick Corbin joined the Diamondbacks at the 2010 trade deadline as part of a package that sent Arizona’s ace to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He made his debut for the Diamondbacks starting against the MArlins in Miami on April 30, 2012. Though the performance was nothing special, he did manage to secure his first MLB win in his debut. He followed that up with a very poor performance a week later, and more than one critic wondered if Corbin had been brought up too soon, or if he would have the control to stay in the bigs. After 2 games, one of them a very abbreviated outing, Corbin had allowed five walks and eight runs in only nine innings of work, while striking out eight. Then Corbin returned to Phoenix and made his home opened against the Giants. In that game against the eventual World Series champions, Corbin pitched seven strong innings, allowing only one run. With this performance against a hated division rival, Corbin began to carve himself a space in the hearts of Arizona fans.

Splitting time between Reno and the parent club in 2012, Corbin logged 22 starts for the Diamondbacks and went into the offseason looking like a strong contender for the team’s fifth slot in the rotation for 2013. The development of fellow Haren trade piece, Tyler Skaggs, along with the acquisitions of Brandon McCarthy and Randall Delgado made for a crowded rotation when spring 2013 rolled around. Though the spring began with many expecting Tyler Skaggs to edge out any competition for the final rotation slot, it was Corbin who dominated the competition in March, grabbing the final rotation slot with both hands and holding it in a death grip.

Corbin not only rode his success in spring training into the regular season, he built upon it. Corbin began to eat innings in bunches, never failing to pitch at least six full innings until the middle of July. On May 10th, Corbin threw his first complete game - in Coors Field of all place. In masterful fashion, Corbin held the Rockies to only one run while using his hard left-handed slider to strike out ten. When the calendar flipped the page to June, Corbin was still sporting a sub-2.00 ERA. In a season where Arizona fans were quickly losing any and all patience with team “ace”, Ian Kennedy, Patrick Corbin was making himself appointment television.

As one of the best pitchers in baseball going into the break, Corbin found himself a member of the 2013 NL All-Star Team. He entered the game in the fourth inning in relief of Clayton Kershaw in a 0-0 game. Unfortunately for Corbin and the National League, Corbin was tagged for two hits an an earned run, earning Corbin the loss in the 3-0 summer classic.

Coming out of the break, Corbin continued his strong season, however, by the time mid-August rolled around, something was visibly wrong. Corbin’s slider was no longer as crisp and he began labouring through his starts. Fatigue had settled in. To his credit, Corbin refused to make excuses and insisted on finishing out the season rather than be shut down once the Diamondbacks had fallen out of contention. He would struggle the rest of the way, finishing with a 5.19 second-half ERA. Some applauded this dedication. Others worried. Corbin finished with 208.1 innings pitched in his first full season.

As great as the first two-thirds of 2013 were for Corbin, things were equally ugly, if not worse in 2014. Whether Corbin’s insistence on pitching through fatigue contributed to his issues or not, we will probably never know for certain. What we do know is that, during the spring of 2014, Corbin would go on the shelf, joining teammates David Hernandez and Daniel Hudson as another Tommy John surgery recipient.

Care was taken with returning Corbin from the procedure, meaning he did not return until the middle of 2015. Corbin finished 2015 on a strict pitch count limit, but managed to show flashes that he was returning to his early 2013 form.

The 2016 season opened with Corbin once again in a competition for a slot in the rotation. This time around, he was not so dominant, but he managed to win a spot in the rotation nonetheless. Much like his 2013 season, Corbin’s spring rolled over into his regular season. 2016 saw Corbin’s walk rate nearly double. Additionally, Corbin’s ability to induce weak, groundball contact eluded him and he gave up the long ball at a career-worst clip. By the time that brutal season had ended, Corbin had pitched himself from potential #2 pitcher behind Zack Greinke, to likely candidate to be permanently moved to the bullpen, a position he reluctantly filled (quite well) at the end of the season.

With all sorts of uncertainty about his role on the team hanging over him, Corbin once again entered spring training needing to prove himself in 2017. Corbin managed to secure himself the slot at the back end of the rotation and made a name for himself as the team’s innings-eater. He finished the season second to Zack Greinke in innings pitched with 189.2, 27.2 more innings than the next busiest arm, Robbie Ray. While no longer showing the dominance he displayed in 2013, Corbin did establish himself as a workhorse while being a member of one of the best regular season rotations of the last thirty years.

Corbin entered the 2017-18 offseason set to make his final pass through arbitration. He settled with the Diamondbacks for $7.5 million for his final year of team control. Slated to be a free agent in the mega-class of 2019, Corbin’s future with Arizona remains unclear. As a team looking to contend in 2018, Corbin and his ability to eat innings at a better than league average level is an appealing player to have. On the other hand, the team is likely to lose Corbin to fee agency at the end of the season. With this in mind, the team could both save money and acquire talent to carry into future seasons by trading Corbin away.

Whether Corbin pitches for Arizona in 2018, he is traded, he receives a qualifying offer, he signs an extension, or some combination of outcomes, Corbin has been the poster-child for the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in his time with Arizona. Developing into a quality left-handed, middle-to-back-end starter, Corbin has a bright and prosperous future ahead of him.