Gray and Corbin are starting the first two games of the team’s penultimate series against the Rockies, with Gray on the mound at Coors Field tonight and Corbin to follow Tuesday. If the Nats stick with a five-man rotation, Gray would then be in line to pitch Sunday’s season finale in D.C.
But manager Davey Martinez suggested he’d like to give Corbin one more opportunity to start as well, giving the left-hander as many chances as possible to head into the offseason on a more positive note after a dismal 2021 campaign. And because they’re off Thursday after flying home from Colorado, Gray and Corbin would be able to pitch on full rest Saturday and Sunday against Boston, if the Nationals so desire.
“We’ll see how everything goes, but I definitely think there’s one more start,” Martinez said during his pregame Zoom session with reporters. “We have a day off, so there possibly could be one more start for maybe not one, but maybe both of them. We haven’t really sat down yet.”
There is valid reason for the Nationals to want to see both pitch once more, especially if they don’t want their final outing of the season to come in the toughest pitcher’s park in baseball.
Gray is coming off a strong outing in Miami last week, but that came on the heels of four straight subpar starts. The rookie right-hander is such an important part of the Nats’ long-term plans, they are probably inclined to give him as many opportunities to pitch as possible before heading home for the winter.
Corbin doesn’t need the work, but the veteran lefty could certainly use an emotional boost heading into his offseason. He enters the day sporting the majors’ highest ERA among qualified starters (5.92), as well as the National League’s highest WHIP (1.47) and home run total (36).
“We’ll see how Patrick does,” Martinez said. “If Patrick feels good and has a good outing, I’d like to see him go out there and build up some more confidence going into the winter. I’ll have that conversation with him after he pitches.”
As things currently stand, Paolo Espino is scheduled to start Wednesday’s series finale in Colorado. Erick Fedde would be on tap for Friday’s game against the Red Sox, with Josh Rogers to follow on Saturday. The Nationals could choose to skip either of them, though, and open slots for both Gray and Corbin to take the mound for the season’s final two games.
Or, they could decide to shut Gray down after tonight’s start and just bump Corbin into his rotation slot for Game 162.