By going 8-0 before Memorial Day, Patrick Corbin has emerged as the best starting pitcher of the first two months of the 2013 Major League season, a pretty serious jump in Q ratings from being a guy that almost no one heard of coming out of spring training.
The Arizona Diamondbacks’ southpaw also owns a 1.71 earned run average. He is just 23 with prior pitching stops in places that have a lower recognition factor than his name does. He is from upstate New York, next to Syracuse, and Corbin didn’t even play baseball for his high school until his junior year.
After that he enrolled in Mohawk Valley Community College where the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Corbin also played on the basektball team. Then, after showing some potential on a summer travel team, Corbin transferred to Chipola College in Marianna, Florida to concentrate on baseball. Both Mohawk and Chipola are two-year schools that scouts seek out after they purchase maps and compasses at Bass Pro Shops.
It was Corbin’s plan to play for the University of Southern Mississippi, but by then he had showed enough promise that scouts did find him and he was plucked in the amateur draft. Corbin showed enough potential to be drafted by the Los Angeles, but then he was traded to the Diamonbacks. Last season Corbin made his Major League debut and it was forgettable enough to keep him off of big-league fans’ radar screens. He finished 6-8 with a 4.54 earned run average.
Yet now, two months into the current season, Corbin has been just about the best starting pitcher in baseball. Somehow, for most fans, he remains little-known. Of course, this could all change in a heartbeat. Corbin could develop a hitch in his delivery and go 0-8 over the next two months.
Or he may simply re-enter the earth’s atmosphere and go 4-4 in June and July. The odds are much more likely on something like that occurring than going 8-0 again for a 16-0 start. If Corbin is playing that well he will be a nationwide phenomenon, in demad to appear on every sports talk show in the country, and every late-night talk show on TV.
As time has gone on, publications, scouts and team representatives have liked Corbin more and more. From being overlooked he grew into a draft-worthy player. From being assigned a ceiling of average big-league starter, he has pretty much assured himself a spot on the National League All-Star team.
The addition of a knuckle-curveball to his throwing repetoire two years ago seems to have been the difference-maker for Corbin, making him nearly unhittable. The other day, as Corbin moved to 8-0, he was not at his sharpest, yet won 6-5, anyway, over the San Diego Padres.
“I didn’t have my best stuff,” Corbin said.
Sometimes it is more impressive when a pitcher can eke out a victory when he is not at his best. It demonstrates determination and adaptability in the facing of things wrong.
Corbin is either better than everyone thought he was, or is just better for now than everyone thought he would be. Either way, he and the Diamondbacks have got to just be loving it.