Mediocre lefties might have become the hottest commodity on the trade market for American League playoff contenders in the last few days.
Brett Cecil of the Blue Jays shut down the Rangers on Sunday and Brian Duensing did the same thing to them in Wednesday's 7-2 Twins win, so it wouldn't be surprising to see the Red Sox, Yankees and others load up on pitchers with limited resumes before the week is out. Okay, that's not really true. It would be surprising to see them do that, but it wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea for when they face the Rangers.
Cecil held the Rangers to four hits in a complete game shutout Sunday. Duensing wasn't quite that good, but the Rangers didn't hit many balls hard over his 6.2 innings of work en route to the win on Wednesday. Combined, the Rangers managed one run and one extra-base hit against the two southpaws.
Is this reason to worry going forward? The biggest vote against concern is the fact that Adrian Beltre hasn't been in the lineup either time. He's hitting .278 against lefties this season with six homers, numbers you'd definitely like to have in the lineup over the mediocre ones put forth by Mitch Moreland.
There are other reasons to expect better results. The Rangers still have a lot of guys who hit lefties well, however. Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli have all posted better numbers than Beltre this season, so you'd expect to see the team come up with something more than they have in their last two encounters.
For the season, the Rangers have a 17-15 record in games started by lefties. They have been 35 points worse in OPS against left-handed starters than they are against righties, which isn't great but it isn't awful for a team as good as the Rangers are offensively, either.
That makes it hard to understand why they've looked so bad against Cecil and Duensing but it also makes it hard to argue that this is more than just a temporary bump in the road. If this wasn't deadline week, there probably wouldn't be a feeling that the Rangers need to address this right away, but it is that week and the Rangers have been sniffing around for some offensive help.
Getting a guy who clobbers lefties would be swell, but not getting one isn't going to sink the entire season. In the macro view, the Rangers are fine when they face lefties even after two straight unimpressive losses.
The micro view shows Cecil starting again on Friday and a division lead down to two games, however. That means we'll probably keep hearing about this until the Rangers bats explode on a lefty.