Remember Ian Kennedy? That guy who won 21 games in 2011 and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting? That guy who started three straight Opening Days, only to be shipped out for a left-handed specialist? Who am I kidding, of course you do, because everybody tried to anoint the former USC standout as the team’s ace. But as we all found out over time, that’s just not him.
That leads me to All-Star Patrick Corbin. Corbin began the season 12-1 but is just 1-4 in his last seven starts, with 25 earned runs allowed. So who is the left-hander, is he the dominant pitcher who was being mentioned with Clayton Kershaw and Matt Harvey earlier this season? Or is he the undependable guy who can’t seem to buy a win of late?
The truth is he’s neither. He’s not an ace, and he’s not a back-end of the rotation guy. When the chips eventually fall, odds are he’s more likely a No. 2 pitcher. And frankly there’s nothing wrong with that. No. 2 guys can compete for a Cy Young Award or two, they can go to All-Star games, heck they can help lead a staff to a World Series. Just ask Andy Pettitte.
Recent history aside — and frankly I attribute a lot of that to a 23-year-old being mentally and physically fatigued from having to be the man for so long this season — but that aside, Corbin will be a very good pitcher in this league for a long time. He has a mastery of the first-pitch strike, a sinker that continues to improve and a slider that might be among the best out-pitches any pitcher in the National League has.
But just remember, those qualities don’t necessarily make him an ace.