Scherzer: People don't appreciate how deceptive Patrick Corbin is

Chris Lingebach
May 16, 2019 - 6:06 pm

Patrick Corbin is in the midst of a brilliant first season for the Nationals, on a rotation that's really kept the club afloat through the first quarter of 2019.

Getting to watch him up close as he's pitched to a 4-1 record with a 2.91 ERA and 69 strikeouts through nine starts, fans maybe don't appreciate how deceptive Corbin can be, Max Scherzer tells Grant & Danny on 106.7 The Fan's 'On The Mound' presented by F.H. Furr.

"Getting to watch him pitch on a consistent basis," Scherzer said, "I think the thing that people don't appreciate as much is how deceptive he is, how deceptive he makes his fastball and slider look together, that the way he can pitch and the way he can locate both his pitches – both his fastball and his slider – that it just makes it so deceptive in that, I mean, you can just tell. Every hitter thinks they're swinging at a fastball and then they realize they're swinging at a slider."

Washington's top three starters – Corbin (69 – 8th), Stephen Strasburg (75 – 4th) and Scherzer (79 – 2nd) – are all top-10 in the Majors in strikeouts.

Corbin pitched another gem Wednesday against the Mets, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk, while fanning 11 batters over eight innings in the 5-1 Nationals win. It was the start of Washington's first two-game win streak since mid-April, when they took two straight at home against the Giants. Washington won again Thursday, a 7-6 outcome against the Mets, to win their first series in a month.

"That's his mechanics," Scherzer said of Corbin's deception. "The way he can just slightly throw across his body. It makes it really good, and then he has a changeup and a curve ball that really gives him a couple extra pitches to keep hitters off-balance a little bit and keep his sequences just off just a little bit as well.

"I think that's why we're seeing him throw the ball so well, because he's going out there and he's pitching deep into ball games, punching guys out and really putting up quality starts."

Paulsen brought up that Scherzer, despite his 2-4 record, may actually be having one of his better starts to a season.

"You've got a 3.64 ERA but you lead the league with a 2.24 FIP, basically the part of your ERA that you control: Fielding Independent Pitching," Paulsen said. "It's actually the best of your career, so the effect of the Earned Run Average that you have individually is better right now than it's ever been before. I don't think people would know that based on the record or the ERA. Is that something you're aware of, and what does that tell you?"

"You try to take everything into account," Scherzer said. "So there's been times where I've been getting hit and only numbers can't really tell the right picture. So you're probably never as good as you are and you're probably never as bad as you think you are.

"For me, I rule it by the process of how I'm executing pitches and there's been a few handful of offspeed pitches I've thrown this year where I just feel I can just execute better, where I'm actually trying to drive the ball into one specific area, there's been times where I've left it in the middle of the plate."

"But for me, the numbers will sort themselves out by the end of the year," he said. "Who knows what the FIP or the ERA? That's not what I'm worried about. I'm more worried about the execution of each pitch."

The Nats have averaged 4.4 runs scored per nine innings in Scherzer's nine starts. Asked if a lack of run support can lead pitchers to press versus situations where they have plenty of runs on the board, Scherzer refused to take the easy way out.

"I mean, that's such an illusion," he said. "That's only derived in your head, because when I go out there, I think every single time I take the mound, in that inning I want to put up a zero. So what changes because of the offense? Nothing. And so for me, whether the offense is there or not, you completely have to tune it out, because every single time you toe the rubber, your job is to put up a zero every single time, and so your job never changes because of the offense."

Asked for the difference between Derek Lilliquist and Paul Menhart, Scherzer was careful not to slight his former pitching coach.

"I mean it's just little things, and more things can just come about," he said. "You know, I've had so many pitching coaches over my career." 

"Obviously Derek was a great one and I learned from him and that was the relationship that I've always had," he said. "Really where I'm at with Paulie here is just getting on the same page and understanding what he sees in my mechanics and what adjustments we try to make, and just lean on him as the other set of eyes and ears for the things I'm trying to make adjustments on and trying to accomplish."

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