MIAMI - The Nationals are going to give another veteran reliever with shaky numbers so far this season a chance to help their bullpen during this final stretch before the All-Star break.
Jonny Venters, the longtime Braves left-hander who has overcome what he describes as “3 1/2” Tommy John surgeries, will be promoted from Double-A Harrisburg before tonight’s series opener against the Marlins, a source familiar with the transaction confirmed.
Venters, 34, joins right-hander Fernando Rodney, 42, as new members of the Nationals bullpen to begin this road trip to Miami and Detroit. The Nationals haven’t announced corresponding moves yet, but they’ll need to clear one more spot off their 40-man roster in addition to the one that opened Sunday when they released Trevor Rosenthal.
Venters owns a 2.68 ERA and 1.280 WHIP in 289 career big league games, all but 22 of them with the Braves. But a recurring bout of elbow injuries forced him to start all over again and kept him out of the majors from 2013-17. He has had three full Tommy John surgeries, plus another procedure on his elbow he has referred to as the equivalent of a half-Tommy John surgery, and all of that allowed him to return to the majors last season with the Rays.
Venters enjoyed success in 2018 with both Tampa Bay and Atlanta, combining for a 3.67 ERA and 1.223 WHIP in 50 appearances. The Braves re-signed him to a $2.25 million deal over the winter, but he struggled mightily in nine appearances, allowing 13 runs (nine earned) on nine hits and eight walks and was released on May 18.
The Nationals signed Venters to a minor league deal on May 29 and assigned him to the bullpen in Harrisburg, where had a 1.29 ERA in nine games but still battled command woes (six walks, plus a hit batter in seven innings).
Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan was first to report Venters’ pending promotion.