Nats' Corbin aims to improve on rough Denver history

Field Level Media

Patrick Corbin has been the definition of a hard-luck pitcher this season.

The left-hander, who signed a six-year, $140 million deal with the Washington Nationals in the offseason, has made four quality starts but only has a single victory to show for it.

He has given the Nationals what they hoped when they signed him, and if the bats and the bullpen can give him support, he should be able to start piling up more victories.

That can begin Tuesday night when Washington plays against the Colorado Rockies in Denver. It's the second game of three in the series, but for Corbin it's another in a long line of matchups with Colorado.

Corbin, who spent the first six years of his career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, knows the Rockies well from his time in the National League West. He has faced Colorado 21 times, including 20 starts. He is 8-4 with a 4.82 ERA against the Rockies, but it's a different story when he faces them in Denver.

In 11 games -- 10 of them starts -- at Coors Field, he holds a 6.55 ERA but has escaped with a 3-2 record there.

On the positive side, he is thriving this season, and his past two starts have been especially impressive. He took a one-hitter into the eighth inning against San Francisco on Thursday and finished with nine strikeouts while pitching 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball. In his start prior to that, he fanned 11 in seven innings but got a no-decision against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Rockies hadn't named a starter for Tuesday as of late Monday night, but a candidate is right-hander Jeff Hoffman, who opened the season with Triple-A Albuquerque. Hoffman, who made a total of 37 appearances (23 starts) for Colorado the past three years, is 0-2 with a 13.89 ERA in three outings (two starts) for Albuquerque this year.

Chad Bettis was tentatively scheduled to start Tuesday, but he came on in the fourth inning of Colorado's 7-5 win in the series opener. Bettis fired three innings of scoreless, hitless ball.

Hoffman, who has yet to pitch in the majors this season, has one career start against the Nationals. That came in Washington on Aug. 26, 2016, when he allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings during an 8-5 loss.

The Rockies are going to need some strong outing from their starters. Ace Kyle Freeland went on the 10-day injured list Monday with a blister issue and will miss at least one start. Tyler Anderson struggled Monday in his return from the injured list, giving up five runs in three innings. Righties Jon Gray and German Marquez have pitched well, but the rest of the staff has been up and down.

That mirrors Colorado's offense. The Rockies have struggled at the plate at times but have gotten better since David Dahl and Ryan McMahon have returned from injuries. First baseman Daniel Murphy, on the injured list due to a fractured finger since March 30, could return Tuesday or Wednesday.

"Hopefully the doldrums we're going through now as an offense are short-lived, and we've seen flashes of breaking out," hitting coach Dave Magadan told the Denver Post over the weekend. "Certainly, not having all our guys here has made it tough. We have a lot of talented younger hitters, but there's a certain comfort period as anyone adjusts to big-league pitching."

The Nationals are hoping to get one of their key hitters back soon. Anthony Rendon is out because of a left elbow contusion, but Washington has resisted putting him on the injured list.

"He's doing a little better," manager Dave Martinez said Monday. "He can bend his arm back and forth, so that's a good sign."

--Field Level Media

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