Corbin wins with dominant breaking ball

The three pitchers with the best ERAs in baseball took the mound on Monday night, and the one who was most dominant was neither Clayton Kershaw nor Shelby Miller, but Arizona Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin.

Let’s run through some of the highlights of Corbin’s performance, which was unusually good from both a historical and statistical perspective.

The accolades

Corbin threw a three-hit complete game with 10 strikeouts.

He is the third visiting pitcher to throw a nine-inning complete game at Coors Field with 10 or more strikeouts, and the first since 1998. The list is in the chart on the right.

Visiting pitcher with nine-inning CG
and 10+ strikeouts at Coors Field

Only one Diamondbacks lefty had previously recorded a complete game, allowing three hits or fewer with 10 or more strikeouts-- Randy Johnson, who did so seven times for them.

Corbin is the second pitcher in the last 20 seasons to open a season with nine straight starts in which he allowed two runs or fewer in six innings or more.

The other is Ubaldo Jimenez, who opened 2010 with a dozen straight such starts for the Rockies.

How he won

Corbin took advantage of the Rockies’ willingness to swing at pitches outside the strike zone.

He threw 74 of his 97 pitches for strikes, despite less than half of his pitches being thrown inside the Pitch F/X strike zone.

Corbin repeatedly tantalized Rockies hitters with his breaking ball. He threw 34 of them and the Rockies went after 21, missing on 15 of them (almost all of which were thrown down-and-in to righties or down-and-away from lefties).

This breaking ball is Corbin’s signature pitch. Opponents have taken 94 swings at it and missed 54 times. His 58 percent miss rate is easily the highest in the majors.

Corbin’s 39 strikeouts with his breaking pitches are the third-most of any pitcher in the NL this season, trailing only A.J. Burnett’s 44 and Clayton Kershaw's 42.

Looking ahead

Corbin is the second pitcher in the last three seasons to win his first seven decisions of the season for the Diamondbacks. Micah Owings did so in 2011.

Corbin is two wins away from the Diamondbacks' club record for wins to start a season. Brandon Webb started the 2008 season with a 9-0 mark.

Corbin should next start against the San Diego Padres this weekend. He held the Padres to one run in seven innings in that appearance.

Jacob Nitzberg contributed research to this post.