Washington Nationals select Patrick Corbin for first career start on Opening Day

JUPITER, Fla. — Patrick Corbin will make his first Opening Day start for the Washington Nationals on Thursday against the New York Mets, manager Dave Martinez said Saturday.

“He feels strong and, like I said, he’s throwing the ball where he wants to,” Martinez said. “So he’s good. I’m really looking forward to seeing him come out and compete on April 7.”

Corbin, 32, enjoyed the best year of his career in 2019, his first with Washington. He went 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA while helping the Nationals win their only World Series title.

The left-hander struggled in each of the last two seasons, going 11-23 combined. Last season, his ERA shot up to 5.82.

Martinez says he’ll see a different pitcher this spring.

“The biggest thing I noticed about him is that he’s not fighting with himself mechanically,” Martinez said.

Corbin’s last scheduled spring start on Saturday was moved up a few hours and to the back fields of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in an effort to avoid the forecast overnight rain. He threw 90 pitches in six innings.

“He threw the ball well,” Martinez said. “It felt good. Like I said, he had a good camp and some of the things that we talked to him about at the end of last year, he really came this year and worked on a lot of things this winter and came back.”

Corbin signed a six-year, $140 million contract to join the Nats in 2019.

“I want him to go out there and compete and just have fun and be the guy that he was in 2019 and before,” Martinez said.

Right-hander Stephen Strasburg won’t be ready to start the season as he recovers from surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. The Nationals reduced Strasburg’s workload earlier this spring, but now he’s back throwing bullpens. He hasn’t pitched in a Grapefruit League game.

Another projected starter, Erick Fedde, is concerned with an oblique injury but could still start the season in the Nationals’ rotation.

Washington reassigned Cade Cavalli to minor league camp on Saturday, meaning 36-year-old right-hander Anibal Sanchez will likely start the season in the rotation, as will Josh Rogers and Josiah Gray. Washington brought Sánchez to camp on a minor league contract.

Joan Adon, a 23-year-old right-hander, was scheduled to fill in as the Nationals’ starter on Saturday night against Miami, ultimately rained out, and could find himself in the rotation if any of the previous pitchers suffer a setback.

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