If anyone ever doubted how much Diamondbacks ace Patrick Corbin meant to the franchise, they need only look at the team's horrible record this season. Corbin, who went on the disabled list this spring, followed by Tommy John (ulnar-collateral-ligament) surgery on his left elbow, was a member of the 2013 National League All-Star Team, after posting an 11-1 record by midseason. The best pitcher in the Diamondbacks' starting rotation and one of the best in the National League in his first full season, Corbin went on to a 14-8 record with a 3.41 earned-run average. And expectations were high that the lefty, who commanded a 92-mile-per-hour fastball and an off-the-table slider, would lead Diamondbacks pitchers again — and that he and slugger Paul Goldschmidt would carry the team into the playoffs. A great starting pitcher like Corbin is the most important element on any baseball team. When such an athlete is on the mound every fifth game, the team has a solid chance of victory.
Without such a vital puzzle piece, it can mean the difference between a winning and losing season. And the Diamondbacks' problems this year can be laid squarely on the backs of its starting pitchers. At this writing, Arizona ranked 26th out of 30 teams, with its pitchers combining for a 4.22 ERA. With Corbin on the mound last season, Arizona ranked 17th. Which is not say that the D-backs didn't have pitching woes in '13, just that they weren't nearly as pronounced and that the majority of the problem was the bullpen. This season, Arizona's relief corps has gotten stronger as the season's progressed while its starting pitching has remained woeful. Many pitchers never are the same after Tommy John, but Corbin's young age, 25, is expected to work in his favor; for the sake of making the long, hot summer around here more bearable, we pray that he makes a furious comeback in '15.