This article is part of our Umpire Analysis series.
As this is the last installment of "Dominate Your Duel" before the end of the baseball season, I thought it might be interesting for us to apply some of the strategies we've reviewed over the past few months in order to create a team for use Wednesday. Being introduced to a new lineup building strategy every week can make the methods seem disparate, or even antithetical, however we can use them in concert with each other to form teams that give us the best chance of showing a profit on a given day. Let's dive right in by selecting our pitcher for Wednesday's 11-game slate, which begins at 7:05 PM ET.
Trevor Bauer ($6,900)
For our first selection, I went back to the first piece of advice given in this series, which was to always be aware of the man behind the plate, as he can have a great deal of influence on the outcome of a pitching performance. Our umpire for the matchup between the Indians and the Royals on Wednesday will be Ed Hickox. Hickox has a tidy 2.90 ERA in 471 innings, but the number I'm most concerned with is his 2.8 BB/9, as Bauer has allowed 57 free passes in 148.2 innings this season. Hickox's pitcher-friendly zone should work to mitigate the one major flaw in Bauer's game this season, which could lead to a strong performance on the mound for the young right-hander.
In the third article of this series, we talked about the usefulness of pitch value statistics, which allow us to quantify how successful a hitter has been versus a given pitch compared to the rest of the league. We can take advantage of this strategy Wednesday by looking for Dodgers' hitters who perform well against the slider, as Tim Hudson relies on his sweeper pretty heavily, throwing it nearly 23 percent of the time this season. Puig and Ramirez seem like excellent targets against the struggling veteran, as the Cuban import has tallied 3.20 runs above average per 100 pitches against the slider this season, good for the fourth-best mark in the league. Ramirez makes his appearance further down the list, but has still performed at an above-average level against the pitch, notching 1.84 runs above average.
Cory Dickerson (OF) ($3,900)
Justin Morneau (1B) ($4,000)
Our next two picks are based on ISO, which has been shown to be more predictive than slugging percentage on a yearly basis. We've selected Morneau and Dickerson here based on the fact that they have excellent isolated power numbers against right-handers this season (.191 and .282, respectively), and will face Joe Wieland in Petco Park, which has been especially conducive to left-handed power in 2014.
Rene Rivera (C) ($2,600)
As we have spent a considerable amount of our bankroll on the last four picks, it's time to hunt for low-cost value based on platoon advantage. Rivera has seen more consistent playing time of late, but is best used against lefties, as evidenced by his .884 OPS in 99 at-bats against southpaws this season. He will encounter a particularly nice matchup against Colorado starter Yohan Flande, who has allowed 19 earned runs in 36.1 innings against righties this season.
As I noted in an article back in August, xFIP seeks to predict a pitcher's performance by estimating how many home runs they should have surrendered based on their fly ball numbers and an average HR/FB rate. Anthony Ranaudo of the Red Sox has tallied an xFIP over five and a half from both sides of the platoon in his 32.1 innings this season, which should make him a nice target for Rays' hitters.
Chris Carter (OF) ($3,500)
Our last hitter Wednesday will spring from the final concept we explored in the series. Last week we learned that hitters in the middle of the batting order (3-5) see more runners on base than the other spots in the lineup. Using this strategy gives us the freedom to pick from different teams without having to worry about our RBI or run scoring opportunities, as a strong middle-of-the-order bat will have the opportunity to drive in runs, and be driven in as well. We will attempt to pick on another rookie in Lisalverto Bonilla of the Rangers, who has tallied a 4.30 earned-run average in four games (two starts) as a fill-in down the stretch.
As a final note, I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to read, comment, and send questions during the run of this article series. I hope you found the strategies explored in this space useful as you attempted to dominate your duel, and I look forward to returning next season.