2018 Outlook: Doolittle emerged as the primary closer for the Nationals following a deadline trade to Washington, recording a save in 21 of his 22 opportunities down the stretch. His numbers were strong throughout the season, with a 2.81 ERA which was well supported by a 31.5 percent strikeout rate and 5.1 percent walk rate. Injury risk is the biggest thing separating Doolittle from the top tier of closers as the 31-year-old lefty has spent time on the disabled list in each of the past four seasons. There is also the risk of the Nationals upgrading the back end of their bullpen at some point and bringing in an even more established closer, in which case Doolittle would likely be relegated to setup duty. As a result, it's best to not pay for a full season's worth of saves.
2018 Outlook: Herrera's first full season as the Royals' closer was a rocky one. Though he converted 26-of-31 saves, his ERA ballooned by a run and a half. He served up nine home runs, two shy of his combined 2014-16 total. His strikeout rate also plummeted during the season's second half, reaching its low point with a 12.8 percent number in the month of September, during which time it was reported he was dealing with a forearm strain. If healthy, Herrera should begin the season as Kansas City's closer, but his tumbling numbers hint at future injury risk. Even if he's not shelved outright, his waning performance could put his job security in jeopardy. He'll be one of the more important closers to monitor during spring training and is a high-risk, moderate-reward pick in the low end of the top 20 at his position.
2018 Outlook: Few pitchers return from a three-year injury hiatus to do anything, much less what Madson has managed to do over the past three seasons. He lost a large chunk of his career to a severely torn UCL and Tommy John surgery, but since 2015, Madson owns a 2.55 ERA with 174 strikeouts and 1.02 WHIP in 187 innings, and he has reestablished himself as a reliable setup man and potential closer. Heading into 2018, Madson will certainly rank behind Sean Doolittle on Washington's closer depth chart, and possibly behind young fireballer Koda Glover as well. That said, if Doolittle stumbles out of the gate and Madson reproduces what he did following last season's trade from Oakland -- 1.37 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 9.3 K/BB -- the Nationals will be hard-pressed to keep him away from the ninth inning.
2018 Outlook: As the Twins' closer at the start of last season, Kintzler had considerable fantasy value like most pitchers in his position. As a Nationals setup man stuck behind Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson on the closer depth chart, however, his value is considerably lower, especially since unlike most setup men, he provides very few strikeouts. His 13.5 percent strikeout rate ranked fifth-lowest among all pitchers to throw at least 70 innings last season. He's able to remain effective due to a solid 54.9 percent ground ball rate, which is good but lower than the numbers put up by elite ground ball relievers such as Zach Britton. His deficiencies were reflected in his 4.36 xFIP, which came in far above his strong 3.03 ERA. There are better non-closers out there to round out a fantasy pitching staff.