Nats skipping over Corbin's next turn in rotation

The Nationals are using a long-awaited off-day to skip over Patrick Corbin’s next turn in the rotation.

Corbin, who last pitched Wednesday against the Mets, was lined up to make his next start Monday. With the Nats set to enjoy their first day off since May 23, he would normally be on the mound Tuesday for the team’s series opener in Detroit.

But the Nationals’ announced rotation for that series against the Tigers has Mitchell Parker on Tuesday, followed by Jake Irvin and MacKenzie Gore. They haven’t announced their rotation plans beyond that, but Davey Martinez suggested this morning Corbin will start Saturday against the Marlins, which means he would be pitching on nine days’ rest instead of the usual four.

“Just to give him a little bit of a breather,” Martinez said. “We take care of all our young guys, but we’ve got to take care of our veteran guys, too.”

The Nats have often used scheduled days off to adjust their rotation order, but that’s usually an attempt to give young starters extra rest, managing their workload over the course of a long season. In this case, the move likely has more to do with Corbin’s continued struggles than anything else.

The veteran left-hander is mired in his fourth consecutive subpar season, currently 1-7 with a 6.15 ERA. He leads the league in losses for the fourth straight year, and his ERA each of these seasons has been higher than 5.19.

Because of his $140 million contract (which expires at the end of this season) and the lack of other established pitching options, Corbin has remained in the Nationals rotation the entire time. He has not missed a start at any point since joining the team in 2019.

By pushing back the lefty’s next start, the Nats are proving a mental break as well as a physical break for a struggling pitcher.

“A little bit of both, and rightfully so,” Martinez said. “He’s part of our pitching staff. He’s been pitching quite a bit. He’s a guy that’s been going five, six, seven innings all the time for us. So I wanted to give him a little break.”

Josiah Gray and Cade Cavalli nearing a return from the injured list, and with rookies Parker and DJ Herz now part of the rotation, the Nats should be in a position soon to field a five-man rotation that doesn’t include Corbin.

Gray is scheduled to throw four innings and/or 50 pitches this afternoon for Single-A Fredericksburg, his first official rehab start after three simulated games at Nationals Park. Gray, who has been on the 15-day injured list with a right flexor strain since mid-April, will likely need to make at least two more rehab starts before he’s deemed ready to return.

Cavalli, meanwhile, is currently on a break from his rehab assignment, which saw him make his first three game appearances since undergoing Tommy John surgery in March 2023. The Nationals have not announced when his next start will come. His 30-day rehab window expires June 20, but he also could be optioned to Triple-A Rochester and continue to build his arm up as a healthy minor leaguer before returning to the majors.

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