The Washington Nationals have signed Jonny Venters to a minor league contract. Does the veteran lefty have anything left in the tank?
After a long absence due to three and a half Tommy John surgeries, Venters made his triumphant return to Major League Baseball in 2018. His performance and injury-riddled journey were recognized as the lefty was named the 2018 National League Comeback Player of the Year. Unfourantely, Venters could not carry his success into 2019, leading to his release from the Atlanta Braves. You can read more about Jonny Venters and his journey here “Atlanta Braves Say Goodbye to Jonny Venters“.
The Washington Nationals certainly need help in their bullpen and Venters could possibly be the answer. In 2018, the lefty averaged 7.1 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, and .26 HR/9 while posting a ground ball rate of 69.1 percent.
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Yes, Venters’ 2019 season has been riddled with crooked numbers, but the sample size has only been four and two-thirds innings pitched. The once dominate left-handed pitcher has some things to work out, specifically his control, but there is room for optimism as his velocity is still very respectable. Venters’ has averaged around 93 MPH on his four-seam fastball and sinker throughout his limited opportunities in 2019.
The Nationals’ bullpen has been a disaster, outside of Sean Doolittle, could Jonny Venters help turn things around?
The Nationals have watched their bullpen post a league-worst 7.14 ERA and a 28th ranked 5.27 FIP. If Venters is able to turn his season around, he could prove to be a valuable arm pitching late in games. Now, he will never be vintage Jonny Venters, the hard-throwing sinkerballer that shut down ball games alongside Craig Kimbrel, but he should be able to be a reliable arm and an upgrade over their current left-handed relievers.
Besides Doolittle, the Nationals have had Matt Grace, Tony Sipp, and Dan Jennings throw innings as left-handed relievers. Going into play on Wednesday, Grace holds an ERA of 7.54, Sipp comes in at 6.30 and Jennings sits at 13.50. Let’s be honest, could it get worse? If Venters is able to show that he can be decent, we will likely see him punching out lefties for the Washington Nationals. Venters toughness and drive can be seen through his comeback and because of this, I am confident in saying that Venters will be able to work his way back up to the Majors.
The Washington Nationals currently sit in fourth place in the National League East with a record of 23-32. The club is currently one of the biggest disappointments in all of Major League Baseball, could taking a flier on Venters hurt? Not at all, especially on a Minor-League contract… I am a fan of the move and I am excited to see what Jonny Venters can do for the Washington Nationals.