On Tuesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin strode out to the Chase Field pitcher’s mound to pitch the 200th inning of his coming-out season, set to face Los Angeles Dodgers sluggers Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp.
But the 24-year-old didn’t make it through the frame.
Despite cornering the first two hitters in 0-2 counts, he would ultimately walk Ramirez before serving up a towering home run to Gonzalez and a hard-hit double to Kemp.
And although the inning was a microcosm of Corbin’s recent struggles, it was hardly a reflection of his season.
The young southpaw has climbed from the throes of a roster-spot battle — in which he, Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado were competing for the no. 5 spot in the Diamondbacks rotation — to ace status, representing the National League in July’s All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York.
But now, with the Diamondbacks’ postseason hopes dwindling in sync with Corbin’s performance, it seems likely the team will shut him down for the rest of the season.
Following Tuesday’s beatdown at the hands of the Dodgers, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said that the organization had yet to come to a decision on whether or not to shut the pitcher down for the remainder of the season, which would otherwise include two more Corbin starts.
“We haven’t had that conversation; the game just got over,” Gibson told reporters.
“(General manager Kevin Towers) isn’t here, so I haven’t even talked to him, but we’ll see how Patrick feels. He didn’t throw a lot of pitches tonight.”
Corbin is, nonetheless, showing signs of wear. Over his last five starts, he is 1-4 with a 7.67 ERA — a far cry from the form he enjoyed early in the season.
Corbin went 9-0 in his first 11 starts, his team winning each of his first 13 starts, and on May 20 he boasted an NL-low 1.44 ERA. Among his 14 wins on the year were a trio of marquee performances in which he out-dueled opposing premier left-handers Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Now in mid-September, at 199.0 innings pitched, Corbin has thrown more innings than ever before in his professional career. Last season, he tallied 186.1 innings between the major leagues and two lower levels. In 2011, he threw 160.1 innings with Double-A Mobile.
Unfazed by his recent trials and overall workload, Corbin says he plans to make his next two starts.
“I feel fine,” he said following Tuesday’s game. “I just want to finish the season on a good note. And heading into next season, I just want to try to go out there and do the best I can.
“I’m just going to say I’m fine and I’m ready to go,” he went on, “and whatever (the organization) decides to do is up to them. I feel fine.”
With expanded rosters, a horde of young, promising arms in the minor leagues and a long reliever who may have earned the opportunity to make a start in Josh Collmenter, the Diamondbacks may look to let another pitcher take the ball when Corbin’s next start rolls around Sunday in Denver.
Such a decision would close the book on the Corbin’s beyond-belief year in a way few could have expected just weeks ago — going 1-4 down the stretch and lasting just two innings in his final start.