By Casey Gagnon @CaseySportsAZ on March 11, 2014
The Arizona Diamondbacks have already announced that left-hander Patrick Corbin will start on opening day in Sydney, Australia later this month when the team kicks off the season down-under with a two-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Corbin's 2013 numbers show he was the most consistent and reliable starter on the team all year. If he continues improving this season, he will establish himself as one of the NL's top pitchers.
While others in Diamondbacks' starting rotation struggled with injuries and inconsistency as the 2013 season wore on, Corbin continued turning in solid performances. He finished with a record of 14-8, the only starter in Sedona Red to finish with winning record. This isn't bad considering that it was his first full MLB season. Provided that he can avoid the "sophomore jinx" that young pitchers dread, Corbin's winning ways should continue.
Corbin has developed an abilty to keep the ball down that gets better every year and opted for the sinker on just over 43 percent of all his pitches last season. Opposing batters were rarely able to get the ball airborne. Even when Corbin went with his next top two pitches, a four-seam fastball and slider, he rarely allowed allowed a four bagger. In just over 200 innings pitched in 2013, Corbin only surrendered 19 home runs.
Corbin's WHIP last season was only 1.17, the 17th lowest in the National League. Considering the fact that Corbin was originally projected no higher that a No. 3 starter in the rotation, this is impressive. And the way Corbin has trended thus far in the big leagues, he'll likely bring it down even lower in 2014.
Corbin has achieved a stalwart command and accuracy with all the pitches in his repertoire, not only his sinker. He fanned 178 opposing hitters in 2013 and walked only 54, giving himself a strikeouts to walks ratio well over 3:1. He threw first-pitch strikes 70 percent of the time, best in the NL. He has the potential to become somewhat of a southpaw version of Greg Maddux if he continues improving.
Despite his youth, Corbin was also a National League gold glove finalist in 2013. He finished with a .962 fielding percentage after only being charged two errors all season. A stellar ability to field the ball truly cements Corbin into an all-around pitcher set to become the ace in the Diamondbacks' starting rotation.
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