Patrick Corbin has been a revelation for the Diamondbacks, but they’re not surprised.
The left-hander looks to continue his spectacular start to the season Tuesday night when he faces Justin Upton and the NL East-leading Braves.
Corbin (5-0, 1.75 ERA) has been one of the best pitchers in baseball, an unexpected status after he went 6-8 with a 4.54 ERA and a save in 22 games — 17 starts — last year.
His inclusion in Arizona’s rotation wasn’t guaranteed, either. Corbin won a spot coming out of spring training, and has since become the first pitcher to throw at least six innings and allow two or fewer runs in his first seven starts of the season since Ubaldo Jimenez had 12 straight such outings for Colorado in 2010.
The Diamondbacks (21-18) are also unbeaten with Corbin on the mound.
“We’re not surprised. That’s why he’s on the team,” manager Kirk Gibson said. “We’ve got complete confidence in him. He’s thrown the ball this way all year. He’s got a great head on his shoulders. He’s a total pitcher, total ballplayer.”
Corbin yielded one run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings of Thursday’s 2-1 victory over Philadelphia.
“Last year, I learned I could pitch in this league, and I’m taking it to this league,” Corbin said. “Every time I go out there I want to keep the team in the ballgame, eat up some innings and give them a chance to win.
“One thing that I’ve learned is if you can locate your heater, everything else is better.”
Corbin’s only outing against the Braves came last June 28, when he tossed three scoreless innings of relief with three strikeouts in a 3-2 road win.
This time, he’s facing a team that pounded out 13 hits with four doubles and three homers to coast to a 10-1 win in the opener of this three-game series. The Braves matched their highest scoring output of the season after they were outscored 23-4 during three straight losses in San Francisco.
Upton is looking to build on his own impressive display at the plate. He went 4 for 5 with a double, a homer and two RBIs Monday in his first game in Phoenix since the Diamondbacks sent him to Atlanta in a seven-player trade in January.
“It was mixed, and that was what I expected,” Upton said. “It is what it is. I tried to have fun with it. This time the fans were yelling at me instead of cheering me, but it was good.
“We’ve been scuffling to score some runs on this road trip so to go and score some runs feels nice.”
Upton has a .458 average with five homers and 11 RBIs in his last 12 games at Chase Field.
Atlanta will give the ball to Julio Teheran (2-0, 4.84) looking to improve to 7-0 with him on the mound. An adjustment to the grip on his changeup produced another strong start from the 22-year-old rookie right-hander, who allowed three runs in seven innings of Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Giants.
“It’s such a key pitch for a starting pitcher,” bench coach Carlos Tosca told the team’s official website. “It allows you to get to your other pitches. It allows you to keep them off-balance.”
Teheran gave up two runs and six hits in four innings while not getting a decision in a 5-4 loss at Chase Field on May 18, 2011, his only meeting with the Diamondbacks.
He’ll have to contend with Paul Goldschmidt, who is 10 for 26 with five homers and 10 RBIs in the past eight games.