USA TODAY Sports Weekly

Keys to victory

- – Stephen Borelli

Find Corbin: Left-hander Patrick Corbin, 33, went 14-7 with a 3.25 ERA in 2019, his first season of a six-year, $140 million deal. Corbin also pitched on short rest on multiple occasions during the postseason to help the Nationals win the World Series. Since then, Corbin has gone 17-42 with a 5.82 ERA and 1.574 WHIP and has led the NL in losses the last two seasons. The Nationals are stuck in a long rebuild as the Lerner family explores selling the team. Anything positive from him will help restore morale among fans and help establish confidence in his younger teammates. Corbin has felt strong and seen good velocity this spring. “To be up to 94 (mph) is really good for me,” he said after his first start, according to The Washington Post.

Start faster: Washington went 17-59 against the NL East last season. It will play 24 fewer games against a division that had run up a 24-5 record against it by mid-June last season, essentiall­y burying it in the NL race. The Nationals have early series against the Rockies, Pirates, Diamondbac­ks (twice), Royals and Tigers, giving them an opportunit­y for growth.

Hope for the future: The Nationals haven’t made any splashy signings and shouldn’t be expected to do so until their ownership status is resolved. While strong performanc­es from young players like shortstop CJ Abrams, catcher Keibert Ruiz and starting pitcher Josiah Gray will be positives, so, too, will the announceme­nt of potential new owners or at least a timetable for when a sale will be completed.

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