Game 60 lineups: Nats vs. Rays

The Nationals are going to face something different today in their series finale against Tampa Bay. The Rays aren’t sending a starter to the mound for the bottom of the first. They’re sending an “opener.” That would be Jonny Venters, a reliever who actually will start the game and pitch one or two innings before manager Kevin Cash then summons Ryan Yarbrough (a starter who will pitch five-plus innings of relief).

This isn’t exactly sweeping the nation, but the rest of the baseball world has taken notice and tried to figure out if there’s a competitive advantage to what the Rays are doing. It makes some sense if the idea is to set up a better matchup in the first inning, with a dominant reliever facing the top of a team’s lineup. Especially when the reliever is a left-hander and there are lefties at the top of the lineup. The strange thing today, though, is that both Venters and Yarbrough are lefties. So it’s not like they’re throwing a real wrench into Davey Martinez’s lineup plans.

Tanner-Roark-throwing-white-sidebar.jpgThe Nats are going with a traditional pitching structure today, with Tanner Roark getting the start ... though this start comes three days after he gave up a walk-off homer in relief in Atlanta. There shouldn’t be any issue with Roark’s stamina, because he threw only 10 pitches on what was going to be his regular between-starts bullpen day anyway. But the right-hander certainly would like to get back into a more familiar groove and try to pitch his team to a two-game interleague sweep this afternoon.

TAMPA BAY RAYS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, MLB.com
Weather: Partly cloudy, 70 degrees, wind 7 mph in from left field

NATIONALS
SS Trea Turner
RF Bryce Harper
3B Anthony Rendon
1B Mark Reynolds
LF Juan Soto
CF Michael A. Taylor
2B Wilmer Difo
C Pedro Severino
RHP Tanner Roark

RAYS
LF Johnny Field
1B C.J. Cron
SS Joey Wendle
C Wilson Ramos
3B Matt Duffy
2B Brad Miller
RF Carlos Gomez
CF Mallex Smith
LHP Jonny Venters

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