This article is part of our Umpire Analysis series.
Last Week's Picks
Game: CLE at TOR
Umpire: Jerry Meals
Recommendation:Edwin Encarnacion, 1B: 0-For-2, BB, RBI
Starters Marco Estrada and Cody Anderson saw just seven plate appearances that didn't yield contact in their 13 collective innings, but neither side was able to break through until Cleveland reliever Bryan Shaw gave up a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to take the loss. Meals' output has decreased slightly in his last two outings, but he is still tied for the most runs seen per game by an umpire this season at 10.1.
Game: MIA at ATL
Umpire: Ben May
Recommendation:Justin Nicolino, LHP: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 3 K
It would have been tough to expect much more from Nicolino in this outing, as he spun seven innings of scoreless baseball in what may have been the best start of his young career. Atlanta starter Manny Banuelos predictably struggled in his first start back from the disabled list, allowing owners to pick up 14 points from one of the cheapest pitchers on the docket. Nicolino's limited skillset means he will likely only be selectable under certain circumstances, but it never hurts to have May in your corner, who has seen just 21 runs in his last three outings.
Game: CLE at TOR
Umpire: Andy Fletcher
Recommendation:Carlos Santana: 1-For-3, RBI
I mentioned last week that I generally think it's best to avoid the unpredictability of knuckleballers, and Wednesday's outing worked to reinforce that belief. After allowing at least three runs in each of his last four outings, Dickey went the distance, striking out six without issuing a walk. The six-run, three-walk affair was unusual for Fletcher, who has seen 9.6 runs and 6.6 walks per game this season.
Game: MIA at ATL
Umpire: Rob Drake
Recommendation:Adam Conley, LHP: 5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 4 K
While not as successful as his teammate, Conley still put up double digits, as we were able to get some strikeouts and a win while facing a fringe (at best) major league starter in Williams Perez. The 11 punchouts were a bit of a comedown for Drake, who had seen at least 19 in four consecutive outings heading into Wednesday. He has now seen 16.4 strikeouts per game, which is tied for sixth most in the league.
This Week's Picks
Game: MIL at MIA
Umpire: David Rackley
Recommendation:Taylor Jungmann, RHP
The Marlins don't seem to need any help suppressing runs this season, but it's always a plus to find an umpire like Rackley, whose 7.2 runs per game is the fifth-lowest mark in the league. Miami's wRC+ (80) is the lowest in the league against right-handed pitching, while Jungmann is sporting a tidy 2.42 ERA in 96.2 innings.
Game: MIN at KC
Umpire: Jim Joyce
Recommendation:Eric Hosmer, 1B
Opposing starter Kyle Gibson has fallen apart after a solid first half of the season, notching a 6.08 ERA with a 3.4 BB/9 rate in 50.1 innings following the All-Star break. Joyce is a double threat when it comes to favoring the hitter, as he is tied for the most runs seen per game (10.1) and has called the third-most free passes in the league (6.8) over 17 contests. Hosmer has quietly mashed right-handed pitching this season, notching a .924 OPS over 293 at-bats.
Game: HOU at OAK
Umpire: Mark Ripperger
Recommendation:Collin McHugh, RHP
Ripperger has held one of the best pitcher's zones according to rate stats this season, having called the second-most strikeouts per game (16.9), while seeing just 4.1 walks per game, which is tied for the lowest in the league. McHugh has seen his strikeout rate surge in his last six starts, as he's tallied 40 punchouts in 41 innings over that span.
Game: CLE at CHW
Umpire: Eric Cooper
Recommendation:Michael Brantley, OF
Jeff Samardzija's effectiveness has varied throughout the season, but he has come off the rails lately, as he posted an 8.82 ERA in August and began September by allowing four runs over 6.1 innings in a start against the Twins on Sept. 3. Cooper may not be the best candidate to stop the bleeding, as his 9.6 runs per game are tied for the fifth most in baseball in 24 games.
Game: TEX at SEA
Umpire: Bruce Dreckman
Recommendation:Mark Trumbo, OF
Derek Holland has looked sharp in his last two starts, allowing just one run over 17 innings, but I am not quite ready to mark him untouchable, as he has allowed five home runs in 30.1 innings since returning from the disabled list and has held a strand rate above 95 percent. It may be interesting to see how Holland fares against the power bats in Seattle's lineup, as Dreckman's 9.2 runs per game puts him in the top-15 umpires in the league in runs allowed.