When the series finale against the Atlanta Braves became an official game, Ryan Zimmerman tied Tim Wallach for most games played in Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals history. During his 1767 career games, Zim has learned a thing or two about leadership.
Patrick Corbin has struggled through most of his 22 starts this year. For that matter he has struggled through his 33 starts since the end of the 2019 season. He’s been awful. In 2020 he led the league in hits allowed and this year he leads the league in earned runs and home runs surrendered.
Where does Zimmerman come in? Asked about Corbin’s struggles Zim offered some insight on what is troubling the left-hander.
When asked about Patrick Corbin’s struggles, Nationals first baseman takes us back to the World Series run of 2019.
"“I think a lot of people forget, he was, for lack of better words, abused in 2019 in the playoff run,” Zimmerman said. “He did things that he’s never done before for us to win that World Series. I think people think you just recover from that, come back the next year and everything’s fine."
First off, Zimmerman could have deflected the question like so many professional athletes do. He could have said something along the lines of, “Patrick is grinding. First one here, last one to leave. He’s a hell of a pitcher.” Or, he could have thrown Corbin under the bus by acknowledging the fact the guy who stands to make $82M over the next three years is pitching horribly. He didn’t do either.
Instead, Zimmerman takes us back to the Nationals playoff run in 2019. Abused? How Corbin was used? How Corbin was regarded by opposing fans? How Corbin was run through the ringer? Zimmerman leaves this up to interpretation, which makes us think Corbin can’t solve his issues with extra bullpen sessions.
Corbin pitched 202 regular season innings and 23 more in the postseason in 2019. Overworked, not really. He did bounce back and forth between starter and reliever in high leverage situations in the playoffs though.
He was blasted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS. Brought in to protect a 2-1 lead, he promptly gave up six runs. Against St. Louis he was given a seven run lead, but gave up four earned in five innings. In his lone start against the Houston Astros he gave up four earned in six innings. We remember him for his three remarkable innings in Game 7, but the road to get there wasn’t so easy.
Prior to that point he may have struck out nine in his start against LA, but he lost. He may have struck out 12 in his win against STL, but he was staked to a seven run cushion from the get go.
Did Mitch Williams rebound from the home run he allowed to Joe Carter in the 1993 World Series? Was Brad Lidge the same pitcher after the 2005 home run he allowed to Albert Pujols in the NLCS?
Zimmerman’s comments in defense of Corbin don’t make an excuse, they tell us there is more to the story. Patrick Corbin is a long ways from his 2019 regular season self. As he works to get back, he knows he has a veteran in his corner fighting with him. That, of Mr. National.