2018 Outlook: In his second crack at the bigs during the final six months of last season, Giolito showed promise, going 5-for-7 in quality starts with a 2.38 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. It was backed, however, by weak peripherals and a fastball that had lost some velocity, things that are of concern as he enters his first full year in the majors. Giolito did miss bats in Triple-A ball, whiffing 25.2 percent of hitters he faced in his final 16 starts for Charlotte preceding his recall, and his 11.4 percent swinging-strike rate (30th-best among qualifiers in those final six weeks) suggests he might've been unlucky in the strikeout department. There's real promise here, just invest more heavily in dynasty than redraft leagues, as he might take only annual, incremental steps.
2018 Outlook: After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014, Jones' 2017 campaign was cut short via surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve in his throwing arm. Prior to the setback, Jones was recapturing the form he displayed in 2016, when he was one of the better setup men in the league. Before the arm injuries, Jones required back surgery, so even if he pitches well in the spring, he's a risky long-term investment, especially at 32 years old. The White Sox signed Joakim Soria to close, but ostensibly to build up trade value to help their rebuilding efforts. If Jones reestablishes himself as an effective setup man, he could inherit the ninth-inning duties during the second half.
2018 Outlook: Keith Law's No. 2 pitching prospect entering the season, Kopech will in all likelihood make his way to Chicago and Guaranteed Rate Field sometime this summer. Armed with a mid-90s fastball that he can reach back and dial up to 100-plus mph, the right-hander posted a 2.88 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 31.3 percent strikeout rate in 25 starts combined between Double- and Triple-A last season. Kopech's weaknesses, however, include a high walk rate (11.8 percent during that same time span), created largely by early inconsistency with his delivery as well as his still-developing secondary pitches, a slider and changeup. He'll probably overpower big-league hitters upon his arrival, meaning that strikeouts will drive his value, but expect him to require an adjustment period that might mean a true breakthrough won't come until 2019 or beyond. Kopech is a top dynasty-league prospect and a worthy stash in redraft leagues with deep benches.
2018 Outlook: Where have all the strikeouts gone? Lopez posted a 25.4 percent strikeout rate in 22 starts at Triple-A Charlotte last season, but that number fell to just 14.5 percent over eight big-league starts. To his credit, Lopez did shave his walk rate to 6.8 percent from 11 percent in a similar sample with Washington in 2016. Still just 24, he throws his fastball in the mid-90s, but the secondary pitches need to come along if Lopez is going to improve against lefties (.338 wOBA last season) and sustain success his second and third time through opposing lineups. He should get close to a full season in the White Sox rotation, but his chances for a full breakout seem slim given what he has shown so far at the highest level. Lopez should be viewed as a lottery ticket in most traditional formats.
2018 Outlook: Though Rodon's 2017 flashed the occasional glimpse of his future front-of-a-staff potential, it was bookended by two serious injuries: Left biceps bursitis which cost him the first two-and-a-half months, then September arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder to remove dead tissue, an injury that requires a six-to-eight month timetable. That makes him a virtual lock for a DL stint to begin 2018, perhaps delaying his return until as late as June, and it casts doubt on his fantasy appeal for the season as a whole. When healthy, Rodon flashes a filthy slider that rates among the best of them, fueling what was a 25.6 percent strikeout rate in his 12 starts last season. That potential makes him a worthy DL stash if your league affords you the room, but he's more of a late-round AL-only pick than a mixed-league factor.
2018 Outlook: Effectively the last man standing in the Chicago bullpen following last July's David Robertson/Tommy Kahnle trade, Minaya got a look as the team's closer, going 9-for-10 in save chances with a 3.98 ERA and 24.1 percent strikeout rate in the season's final two months. Unfortunately, without the promise of either saves or holds -- the latter of which is the more likely to begin 2018 following the team's acquisition of Joakim Soria -- Minaya doesn't offer enough in terms of either ERA or WHIP for fantasy relevance. His high walk and fly-ball rates leave him susceptible to untimely implosions. He's merely a speculative save-getter for AL-only managers to stash.