This article is part of our Umpire Analysis series.
Last Week's Picks
Game: BOS at CHW
Umpire: Mark Ripperger
Recommendation:Wade Miley, LHP: 6.2 IP, 13 H, 5 ER, BB, 3 K
Despite allowing a season high in hits, Miley was in line for the win heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, but allowed three earned runs in the frame before being pulled from the contest. Ripperger's extreme pitcher-friendly stats, combined with Chicago's deficiencies against left-handed pitching, made this a favorable matchup, but Miley's three strikeouts were his lowest total since July 12. Ripperger likely will remain a source for strong K:BB ratios, as he is tied for the second-highest strikeout mark (16.9 per game) and the lowest walk mark (4.1 per game) among umpires in 22 contests this season.
Game: OAK at SEA
Umpire: Jim Reynolds
Recommendation:Brett Lawrie, 3B: 1-for-3, 2 BB
Reynolds and the A's provided a temporary knockout punch for Mike Montgomery's time in the major leagues, as he retired just four batters while allowing five runs and threw just 25 strikes out of 40 pitches. Reynolds, who saw double-digit walks for his second consecutive contest, remains in top-15 for most free passes per game this season, while seeing 8.9 runs per contest.
Game: NYM at PHI
Umpire: Bruce Dreckman
Recommendation:Ryan Howard, 1B: 2-for-5, R
Colon pulled it together Wednesday, tossing seven scoreless innings, but the Phillies were able to put four points on the board against the New York bullpen, leading to a total of 13 in the contest. While he gave us a favorable result, Dreckman has been more pitcher-friendly his last three games, having seen no less than 15 strikeouts and a total of just 13 walks over that span.
Game: STL at ARI
Umpire: Jim Joyce
Recommendation:Jason Heyward, OF: 1-for-5
Rubby De La Rosa certainly didn't turn in his best performance, as he walked four batters and gave up five runs in five innings, but Heyward continually missed opportunities, leaving four runners on base over three at-bats. Joyce has solidified his reputation as a hitter's umpire over his last three games with 38 runs and 35 walks in that stretch.
Game: PIT at MIA
Umpire: Alan Porter
Recommendation:Starling Marte, OF: 0-For-4
The Pirates let Justin Nicolino off the hook in this one, as he walked four batters and allowed six hits in six innings, but yielded just two runs. Porter's walks-per-game mark has dropped to 6.9 after seeing just 13 in his last three games, but he still sports the third-worst mark in the league
This Week's Picks
Game: CLE at TOR
Umpire: Jerry Meals
Recommendation:Edwin Encarnacion, 1B
The recent success experienced by Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista makes stacking them on FanDuel nearly impossible, but the first baseman may be the player to take if you can only choose one, as he has notched his highest slugging percentage this season (.619) against finesse pitchers like Cody Anderson. Meals has seen 10.2 runs per game over his 26 contests in 2015, and could be in line to continue that trend, as Anderson has struck out just 4.1 batters per nine innings.
Game: MIA at ATL
Umpire: Ben May
Recommendation:Justin Nicolino, LHP
It may seem strange to recommend Nicolino after naming him as a stack target last week, but it just doesn't seem right to pass up a May outing, as his 5.8 runs per game through 16 contests this season is a full 1.2 runs lower than the next ump. Despite his wildness last week, Nicolino does tend to keep the ball in the zone (2.7 BB/9), and the Braves are the fourth-worst team against left-handers this season (81 wRC+). They also hit just 29 percent flyballs, which could play well against his 47 percent groundball rate. May's 16.9 strikeouts per game could help us get an extra point or two, but those making this selection should probably be looking for length and a victory, as MLB.com reported that opposing starter Manny Banuelos is only expected to throw about 50 pitches coming off the disabled list.
Game: CLE at TOR
Umpire: Andy Fletcher
Recommendation:Carlos Santana, 1B
I generally try to steer clear of the unpredictability of the knuckleball, but it is becoming hard to ignore opposing starter R.A. Dickey's xFIP against left-handed hitters, which stands at 5.33 over 79.1 innings. Fletcher has consistently been one of the best hitter-friendly umpires in 2015, as his 6.7 walks per game are tied for the fourth most this season, while his 9.6 runs per game are the fifth-highest mark over 25 contests. Santana could be one of the biggest beneficiaries of Fletcher's zone, as he has notched a 15.4 percent walk rate in 533 plate appearances.
Game: MIA at ATL
Umpire: Rob Drake
Recommendation:Adam Conley, LHP
As a southpaw, Conley has the same advantage as Nicolino over the Braves, but unlike Nicolino, he could be a play to rack up some cheap strikeouts, as he's tallied 18 over his last 14.2 innings. Drake could help Conley put up some points Thursday, as the 16.7 whiffs he's seen per game are tied for fifth most in the league, while he is in the bottom-10 in runs per game (7.3) over 23 contests.