Closing Time: Who is Teoscar Hernandez?

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Teoscar Hernandez can give you a power boost (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
Teoscar Hernandez can give you a power boost (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

What do we do when a prospect hits the majors and is better than he was in Triple-A?

Well, it’s the last week of the fantasy season. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

Teoscar Hernandez is one of those good-not-great prospects who falls short of the Top 100 lists and gets lost in the shuffle. The stocked Astros didn’t have a spot for him. In late July, the 24-year-old outfielder was shipped to Toronto, the key piece of the Francisco Liriano deal.

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After a respectable Triple-A season (.265/.351/.490, 18 homers in 105 games), Hernandez was promoted to Toronto in September. He’s been given a chance to play, and so far, so good. He’s batting .274 and slugging .644, with seven homers in 73 at-bats. He clocked two taters in Tuesday’s romp over Boston and Chris Sale, giving Hernandez five homers in his last five games.

Fantasy owners have been slow to adopt — Hernandez is owned in just five percent of Yahoo leagues. The low tag is easily explained — Hernandez arrived in the majors without much fanfare, and obviously the engagement level falls off in September. Maybe some people are confusing him with Oscar Hernandez, a catcher in the Arizona system. But some of us are still fighting for every point we can get; let’s keep the process going.

Hernandez has owned the No. 1 slot in Toronto’s lineup for a week now, and figures to stay there through the weekend. Don’t be a grouch. Find the add button.

• The Cardinals didn’t hesitate when they acquired Juan Nicasio from the Phillies three weeks ago — they immediately threw him into a critical, high-leverage role. Nicasio has seven appearances for St. Louis and they’ve resulted in two wins and three saves. In four of those appearances, including the last three, he’s been asked to work more than an inning. He finished off the Cubs on Tuesday, striking out three and working around three baserunners.

It’s a good refresher on how pitchers can reinvent themselves in a relief role. Nicasio’s fastball is up to 95.4 mph this year, easily the highest of his career. Surely he doesn’t miss his time with the Rockies, all that thin-air garbage. His strikeout rate is around one per inning, and he’s walking just 2.56/9.

It doesn’t make him Mariano Rivera or Dennis Eckersley, but I’m surprised Nicasio is still unclaimed in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. A 2.69 ERA and 1.08 WHIP plays anywhere. I suspect he’ll throw some gas on the weekend, though he might need Wednesday off.

Sal Romano’s starts have been all over the map. The Cincinnati rookie right-hander has been dominant on a few occasions, knocked around on some others. He’s not even getting two strikeouts for every walk, and that’s a red flag. But some of us need to stream hopefully and wishfully in deeper formats, and with that, I’m taking a spin on Romano at Milwaukee on Thursday.

The Red Sox had their way with Romano last weekend, but otherwise he’s been pretty good over the last five weeks. His last seven starts hash out to a 2.95 ERA and 1.27 WHIP. Milwaukee’s offense is merely 18th in the majors in OPS against southpaws. I’m not suggesting Romano is a slam dunk, but when you’re chasing, you need to take chances (plus, someone already beat me to Kyle Gibson). Romano is rostered in a mere five percent of Yahoo leagues.

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