Two nights ago, Mike Olt got the start against a lefty-tossing Scott Diamond, and went 0-for-4 to reduce his triple-slash line for the season to .182/.310/.227. He started off reasonably well, but he has received sporadic playing time, and when you're talking about a sub-30 PA sample, yeah, going really poorly for even just 5-10 PA is going to murder your numbers.
Today, the Twins are rolling lefty Brian Duensing out on the bump, and Olt, whose primary value on the major league roster was supposed to be his ability to hit lefties, is on the bench. Mitch Moreland, who is on a hot little ~1.000 OPS run over the last week or so, but has not established himself as someone who can hit lefties at the big league level, gets the start, presumably because Ron Washington didn't want to pull his hot bat out of the lineup.
The first thing that comes to mind here is, okay, I don't want to overblow Olt sitting out this one game against a lefty ... but if we've reached the point where he just hasn't produced enough for Wash's liking to utilize him in spite of the circumstances, then, okay, we should probably go ahead and expect to see even less of him in September/October than we've seen already. That's a frustrating realization, but if that's the reality of the situation, then it's not altogether surprising.
And, hopefully, what is going with Olt right now between the offensive/defensive struggles in a small sample doesn't have any bearing on how Wash views him or his potential role on the 2013 squad. But, hey, first impressions and all of that. We have a long way to go.
The other thing that comes to mind is that Wash has shown what feels like a greater inclination of late to dismiss matchups and keep playing guys like Moreland/Murphy -- even if they're locked into unfavorable lefty matchups -- because they're "hot," to the detriment of Gentry's/Olt's playing time. I don't get a real great feeling from that, in part because (a) hot streaks have extremely minimal predictive value, and (b) I'm unnerved by the thought that such logic could burn Texas in a post-season context. Murphy has a lower well-hit average against lefties than righties this year, but his BABIP vs. lefties is .555. You combine that with his career-long struggles to hit lefties, and tell me whether you really think that level of production is going to hold up.
Update: A couple of interesting tweets, including one from Anthony Andro:
Ron Washington on starting Moreland vs LH: I want to throw Moreland a bone, give him a shot at a lefty.— Anthony Andro (@aandro) August 25, 2012
And one from Ben Rogers (although he has since deleted another such tweet that was broadcast to his followership at large, so I'm not sure what that's about):
@lonestarball Olt bothered by a foot issue.— Ben Rogers (@BenRogers) August 25, 2012