2018 Outlook: Just when it looked like he was drawing back to the rest of the pack among fantasy closers, Kimbrel broke through with not just one of his own best single years, but one of the best single years by any relief pitcher all-time. He whiffed 49.6 percent of the batters he faced, the third-best rate by a reliever in history, and coupled it with a career-best 5.5 percent walk rate, resulting in the second season in his career with at least 35 saves and 125 strikeouts -- he owns two of the five such campaigns by any player all-time. Having answered the injury questions that popped up late in 2016, Kimbrel has re-established himself as the "1A" to Kenley Jansen's "1." He's a viable top-50 option in any format, and if your league heavily weights relief scoring, he could be worth a pick a round or two sooner.
2018 Outlook: Some questioned why the Red Sox didn't burnish their solid relief corps with one of the many quality options available during the offseason. One reason is the return of Tyler Thornburg, but more importantly, the squad anticipates a full season of Smith setting up Craig Kimbrel. Before requiring Tommy John surgery in 2016, Smith was developing into one of the more dominating relievers in the league. After a long recovery, he finally made it back late last season, tossing 6 2/3 frames with a respectable seven whiffs to just two walks. The numbers aren't as relevant as the fact he made it back and was able to throw pitches again. The hope is that after a winter of good health, Smith can focus on the upcoming campaign and not worry about his arm, and ultimately return to the form displayed in his prime years with Seattle. There are obviously better options for fantasy players looking for setup men with a chance to close, but that keeps Smith's price down for those seeking strikeout and ratio support.