Closing Time: Cesar Hernandez's hot start continues

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/teams/phi" data-ylk="slk:Philadelphia Phillies">Philadelphia Phillies</a>’ Cesar Hernandez has been a steal for his fantasy owners (AP Photo).
Philadelphia Phillies’ Cesar Hernandez has been a steal for his fantasy owners (AP Photo).

Cesar Hernandez had an eventful game Thursday, swiping his fifth bag of the year and somehow recording three RBI while hitting a single. His OBP is up to .430 this season thanks to more than doubling his career BB% from 10.1 to 20.3. Walk rate typically stabilizes around 120 plate appearances, and Hernandez currently has 79.

A plus defender at second base and locked in Philly’s leadoff spot, Hernandez has also greatly improved as a base stealer, as he’s gone 14-for-17 on attempts since last year’s All-Star break. He’s in his prime at age 27, and only Yankee Stadium has boosted home runs more than Citizens Bank Park over the last three years, so the middle infielder could easily reach double-digit homers in 2018. Quietly on pace to score 126 runs, Hernandez is owned in just 56 percent of Yahoo leagues, so he’s still out there in far too many.

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• Aaron Sanchez has a 39:33 K:BB ratio since 2017 (61.2 innings), so needless to say, that’s going to have to drastically improve. However, he looked dominant in spring, has seemingly figured out his past blister problems, has an encouraging new changeup, and there’s reason to believe his K rate will soon improve, so Sanchez could be a sneaky trade target after his next start, which comes against the scorching Red Sox.

• Aroldis Chapman has struck out the last eight batters he’s faced and now sports a 17:2 K:BB ratio over eight innings, as he looks far more like the pitcher he was in his prime than last season. He entered Thursday with a career-best 20.2 SwStr% and currently owns a -0.39 FIP.

• Chris Owings left after colliding with A.J. Pollock while making a great catch, and the Giants and Diamondbacks combined to score just 12 runs during their three-game series in Chase Field.

• Jameson Taillon was off to such a good start this season that his ERA still sits at 2.86 with a 0.91 WHIP after allowing five runs over 1.2 innings. He’ll be just fine.

• Jake Arrieta was fantastic, holding the Pirates to just one hit with 10 strikeouts over seven shutout innings, as he easily brought his best stuff of the season to the mound.

• Freddie Freeman was immediately back in the lineup after leaving Wednesday’s game after getting hit by a pitch on the same wrist he fractured last season, while Preston Tucker is tied for the National League lead with 18 RBI.

• Matt Harvey was tagged for six runs over six innings and is no longer worth rostering even in deeper leagues. His next turn in New York’s rotation is no sure thing. It’s a shame, as Harvey just turned 29 years old.

• Lewis Brinson clubbed his first two homers of the year, likely on most fantasy benches if not waiver wires. His OPS sits at .456 even after the two-homer outburst.

• Lorenzo Cain homered, scored four runs and is now hitting .303/.390/.485 for the Brewers, as he’s loving the NL and hasn’t even benefitted from his new digs yet (he entered with a .531 OPS at home). Cain has spent the bulk of his career in Kauffman Stadium, which has suppressed home runs for righties by 24 percent over the past three years (second-most to AT&T Park over that span), whereas Miller Park helps boost right-handed power (and run scoring in general). Cain is going to have a big year if he stays healthy.

• Mookie Betts homered again and continues to look like a legit MVP candidate, while Eduardo Rodriguez turned in his second straight solid performance. The starter is finally healthy and sports a 12.8 SwStr%. His ownership is going to start rising fast.

• Shohei Ohtani went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, but the good news was that he was able to return to the lineup, and his blister issue isn’t expected to prevent him from making his next start on the mound either.

Follow the Yahoo fantasy baseball crew on Twitter: Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, and Scott Pianowski

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