Veteran lefty reliever Jonny Venters has been stacking up accomplishments, starting with his April 25 return to the majors, his first appearance since 2012 as he recovered from multiple elbow issues.
On May 15, he got his first big-league win since 2012. On May 28, he got his first big-league save since 2011.
And today he will make his first big-league start — ever.
Manager Kevin Cash said after Tuesday's game that Venters would be used as the game "opener," charged with getting 3-6 outs.
Rookie LHP Ryan Yarbrough is slated to work the bulk of the innings, though the Rays could used a right-hander before Yarbrough.
The Nationals typically have two or three lefties in the top five of the lineup, and manager Dave Martinez said they felt confident in their hitters and wouldn't adjust to the Rays plans.
Venters, 33, made several starts over the last few years in minor-league rehab games. He last worked regularly as a starting pitcher in 2009 at the Double- and Triple-A levels in the Braves system.
Venters said he welcomed the opportunity.
"I'm excited," Venters said. "I'm going to treat it like I do every other outing, this time it just happens to be in the first inning. Try to go out there and get some guys out. And that's about it."
Venters has been pitching well, with nine straight scoreless appearances and a 0.87 ERA overall in 14 games.