While there may not be much left in this season regarding a post-season appearance, the Diamondbacks still want answers to a few outstanding questions. Now that the organization is in the evaluation mode, decision-makers hope the final weeks of this campaign provide some clues to next season’s roster.
One who remains under the microscope is left-hander Patrick Corbin. Coming off of Tommy John surgery last March to repair ligament damage in his pitching elbow, Corbin was slow to rehab and that was on purpose. The Diamondbacks tend to be more conservative than most clubs in the whole rehabilitation process.
Here, Corbin’s recovery program lasted around 15 months. That was before the medical team allowed Corbin to walk on a major league mound, and included from the time of surgery until he was handed the ball from manager Chip Hale this July 4 to pitch in a home game against Colorado.
Corbin continued his way back, and into the hearts and minds of decision-makers, with an impressive outing Monday afternoon. That’s when the native of Clay N. Y. shut down the visiting Giants, and the Diamondbacks earned a 6-1 victory over San Francisco before 28,078 in Chase Field.
The victory snapped the Diamondbacks four-game losing streak. More importantly, the outing was a clear step for Corbin in the effort to regain his National League All-Star status from two years ago. With the strong performance, Corbin raised his season mark to 5-3 in 12 starts.
Pulled by Hale after six strong innings, Corbin said he was ready to go further. Hale would not allow this, and as the case with Corbin’s overall program, the Diamondbacks are careful not to exploit and abuse.
“I know my pitch count is limited,and so I try to be as aggressive as I can,” he said after allowing six hits, no runs and lowering his ERA to 3.32. “My goal is to finish strong, and have a normal off-season routine.”
Next February, and when the team reconvenes for spring training, Corbin’s rehab program should be complete. At that point, Hale said, “the reigns come off,” and Corbin can list a reasonable goal of pitching 200 plus innings. Two years ago, he went 14-8, named to the National League All-Star team and pitched a career-high 208.1 innings. Previously, the most innings pitched in one season was 160.1 for Double-AA Mobile in 2011.
“Great job, and this is another indication of his growth,” Hale said of Corbin’s effort. “He was not as smooth as in previous starts and the Giants had several good at-bats against him. But, he was able to avoid trouble and keep his pitch count in check. It was good to see him complete and after six innings, given his condition, that was enough.”
If Corbin held the Giants in check, second baseman Phil Gosselin provided early power. A versatile infielder, Gosselin started at second base and almost immediately put the Diamondbacks in the lead. After singles from David Peralta and Jake Lamb in the second, Gosselin lifted a Mike Leake slider into the left centerfield bleachers for his second home run since joining the Diamondbacks in late July in a trade with Atlanta. That provided a quick 3-0 lead, and an advantage Corbin and relievers Randall Delgado, Daniel Hudson and Brad Ziegler made sure stood against the Giants’ lethal bats.
Recognizing he is the mix with several others for jobs next season, Gosselin said he’s optimistic about the future and wants to be, in his words, “in a position to help this club win.”
“I think I’m good enough to be here, and have confidence in my ability,” he said. “I think we’ll all in the same position, and that’s to show what we can do. No, I’m not a home run hitter but I’ll hit one, here and there.”
Gosselin also chipped in single and scored a run in the fourth. Ahead 5-0 in the sixth, A J. Pollock unloaded his 16th home run for the season. The bomb carried half-way up in the left field bleachers and that closed the Arizona scoring. Pollock’s round-tripper was simply crushed, and Giants’ left fielder Brandon Belt did not look up or move.
NEW CLUB RECORD
With a walk to lead off the fifth inning, Paul Goldschmidt established a club record. The pass was his 101st of the season, and broke the existing mark of 100 held by Luis Gonzalez during the 2001 season.
As well, Goldschmidt received 24 intentional walks this season. Coming into play Monday, Joey Votto of the Reds led the National League in walks with 121 free passes. The Nationals’ Bryce Harper was second with 107 walks.
CHANGE FOR THE GIANTS
San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy scheduled right-hander Ryan Vogelsong to start Tuesday night’s game against the Diamondbacks. However, Bochy used Vogelsong Monday. The veteran came in relief and pitched two innings.
Now, Bochy will go with veteran right-hander Tim Hudson (6-8, 4.69 ERA for 17 starts) Tuesday night. Right-hander Chase Anderson (6-5, 4.26 for 24 starts) will start for the Diamondbacks.