2018 Outlook: After several years of being touted as a future closer, Vizcaino finally seemed to seize control of the job with the Braves in 2017, capturing it at the beginning of August and converting 12-of-13 save chances in the season's final two months. This will be the first time he has entered spring training with the job "his to lose" and despite his checkered injury history -- he has amassed 50 relief innings or 200 total batters faced only once since his conversion to the bullpen in 2011, and that was last year -- he's one of the higher-upside choices from the middle tier of fantasy closers. Vizcaino's high-90s fastball and curveball is lethal enough to make him a top-10 finisher at the position with full health, but the risk should keep his price down by a few notches.
2018 Outlook: Holland, who missed the entire 2016 campaign recovering from Tommy John surgery and was forced to audition for teams during the 2016-17 offseason merely to find a job, thrived last season after choosing Coors Field as his home, saving 41 games and capturing National League Comeback Player of the Year honors. If not for a month-long "blip" in August, a month during which he cut the finger on his throwing hand, he'd have had a sub-2.00 ERA and sub-1.00 WHIP, further exemplifying the strength of his rebound. Holland waited until Opening Day to land a 1-year contract with the Cardinals which will pay him closer money, making it obvious that the Cardinals will give him the role as soon as he is ready to join the team.
2018 Outlook: Well here's a blast from fantasy baseball's past. Morrow, the former Mariners and Blue Jays prospect who once tossed a 17-strikeout, one-hit shutout, resurfaced as a reliever with the Padres in 2016, fully breaking through in his new role after moving on to the Dodgers last season. Pitching shorter outings allowed him to dial up his fastball to a 97.7 mph average, resulting in career bests in WHIP (0.92), FIP (1.55) and strikeout rate (29.4 percent). By year's end, Morrow was a go-to guy for the Dodgers, who used him in 40 of their final 90 regular-season games and all but one of their 15 playoff games; and during the winter, he scored a big payday with the Cubs, who also intend to feature him prominently in the late innings. That hefty workload, though, is a bit of a concern for a pitcher with his injury track record, and it's unclear whether Morrow will ultimately occupy the ninth inning for the Cubs and garner its resulting saves, or the seventh/eighth and those resulting holds. The difference is paramount in fantasy baseball, separating a top-15 closer and outside-the-top-30 reliever, who merely provides help in ERA/WHIP/K's. Keep a close eye on the Cubs' closer decision this spring.
2018 Outlook: A pitcher with much more value in daily formats, where he can be slotted in around your starting pitchers to help bolster your team's ERA/WHIP/K's, Miller's draft stock ranges significantly depending upon your league format. One of the game's most dominant relievers, he had a 1.63 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 318 strikeouts and 102 saves-plus-holds during the past three seasons combined, which ranked second, second, second and eighth, respectively, among qualified relievers. Miller will again serve as the Indians' top setup/middle-innings reliever, capable of being deployed at any critical moment in the game, and on a per-inning rate he'll provide you better stats than almost anyone out there. The catch: Are saves at a premium in your league? With closer Cody Allen pitching at peak form last season, Miller probably won't notch that many of them. Do holds count? If not, Miller will fall in the oft-forgotten "middle reliever" pool in traditional rotisserie leagues. He's absolutely worth a draft pick in all formats -- as high as in the top 100, if he fits your scoring and you can maximize his use, or as low as the final rounds in standard rotisserie mixed formats.
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: Treinen was a surprising choice to be the Nationals' closer to begin the 2017 season, but that did not even last a month as Dusty Baker changed his mind rather quickly. Treinen was later included in a deal to Oakland when Washington solidified their bullpen with Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. The move was perfect for Treinen because it gave him the closer role in another venue, and now he should not have to look over his shoulder. Treinen is one of those pitchers that truly wows when you watch him pitch because his slider is filthy and his sinker is both high in velocity and high in movement. He can be as frustrating as he can be impressive because the command of those pitches is not terribly consistent, but he has plenty of fantasy value because he has the ninth-inning role and he has the stuff to be an elite closer if he can turn the corner with his command.
2018 Outlook: Fueled by one of the league's nastiest splitters, which he threw more than half the time in both 2016 and 2017, Neris posted the seventh-most strikeouts (188) during that two-year span, resulting in 60 saves plus holds that ranked among the 25 best relief pitchers. His success makes him the favorite to close for the Phillies all season, and his stuff is good enough to propel him into the top-15 fantasy closers if he can retain hold off possible in-season challenges by Pat Neshek or -- gasp -- Francisco Rodriguez. Neris' ERA and strikeout total should be good enough to contribute in any role, but mind the Phillies' plans (as well as your league's categories) when considering him in the mid-to-late rounds.
2018 Outlook: Among pitchers with at least 100 innings last season, Peacock's 29.5 percent rate was eighth in the majors, and he was one of only four pitchers to whiff at least 160 batters without qualifying for the ERA title (Zack Godley, Rich Hill and Charlie Morton). Peacock's strength in the category, fueled primarily by his leaning substantially more on his slider (37.3 percent usage), was a boon to his fantasy managers, and will be again in 2018, whether a member of the Astros' rotation or bullpen. He'll probably shift between the two, with his main weakness being the lack of an elite "out" pitch against lefties, which tends to be more exposed when he's stretched out as a starter: They batted .269/.352/.462 against him in that role in 2017. Peacock is a worthwhile sixth or seventh pitcher on any fantasy staff, but be prepared for some shifting of his role yet again.
2018 Outlook: Despite posting a 5.37 ERA and 1.54 WHIP dueing his first 12 starts for Triple-A Colorado Springs last season, Hader earned a promotion to the Brewers, where he was promptly moved to the bullpen. The switch unlocked his potential: His 2.08 ERA was 15th-best among qualified relievers from his June 10 debut forward, and his 36.2 percent strikeout rate was eighth. Hader is heavily reliant upon his fastball, which, while not a peak-velocity offering, can be dialed up, and he manages to put up elite numbers despite its minimal spin. The Brewers claim he'll again serve as a reliever in 2018, which is probably for the best, as he tries to polish his little-used slider and changeup. Hader should be a top pick among relief pitchers for K's, ERA and holds, in that order, and he does have the skills to close in the event Corey Knebel were to get hurt.
2018 Outlook: Shipped to the bullpen for the first time since his pro debut in 2011, Bradley thrived when provided the opportunity to whittle his pitches down to basically just his fastball and curveball, dialing up the velocity on the former, last season. Thanks in large part to a near-four-mph boost with his fastball, he flustered left-handed hitters for the first time (.223/.299/.281 rates, 25.9 percent strikeout rate), the final piece of the puzzle to his arriving as a big-league force. Though Bradley was unable to unseat Fernando Rodney as the team's closer during his breakthrough 2017, Rodney's winter departure creates an opportunity for a new Diamondbacks finisher in 2018, and Bradley's skills are as good a fit as anyone's within their current bullpen. Bradley will battle Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano for saves, with the result either A) regular save chances that could place his statistical ceiling amongst the top-10 fantasy closers, or B) a return to a setup role from which he'd be one of the better ERA/WHIP/K's support options.
2018 Outlook: Sometimes things aren't nearly as promising as they appear. While Greene's conversion to the bullpen reaped benefits, the change isn't as rosy as it seems. His velocity ticked up, as is often the case, and so did his punchouts. The problem is, his swinging-strike rate doesn't support the improvement, which is usually a harbinger for fewer whiffs. There's always a chance Greene induces more swings and misses and sustains the elevated strikeout rate, but until there's evidence of that, expect some regression. This is disconcerting since Greene often gets himself into jams due to his propensity for walking batters. There's not much competition for saves in the Tigers' bullpen, so Greene is likely to pick up where he left off last season, when he converted 9 out of 10 save chances down the stretch. That said, he should be on the list of Opening Day closers with a short leash.
2018 Outlook: One of the most consistent, albeit not-top-shelf, fantasy closers from 2014-16, finishing among the top 15 at his position in rotisserie and points-based scoring in each of those years, Robertson suffered the misfortune of being one of last year's closers who was traded into a setup role at midseason. Remarkably, it didn't matter: Despite his saving only one game for the Yankees following his July trade, and finishing the season with just 14, he again managed a top-15 fantasy relief pitcher finish (and that's just in scoring formats that don't reward holds). He did it by relying more than ever on his curveball, boosting its usage to nearly 50 percent, resulting in a 1.88 ERA, 0.85 WHIP and 36.6 percent strikeout rate in 38 appearances for his new team (postseason included). Robertson will return to an ERA/WHIP/K's/holds-fueling setup role for the Yankees this year -- though there's a slim chance he could be traded as the team seeks to keep its payroll under the luxury-tax threshold -- where he might well be a top-40 reliever even without the saves, but a top pick for holds.
2018 Outlook: The Cubs must've seen something special in Chatwood to hand him a three-year, $38 million contract in this tepid offseason for free agents, and it was probably this: He had a 2.57 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in his road starts from 2016-17 combined, which was sixth and 20th among pitchers who had at least 20 starts, excelling when freed of Coors Field's high altitude. Or, perhaps it was this: Chatwood saw his fastball velocity increase by 2.5 mph last season compared to 2016. Or this: His curveball had the fifth-highest spin rate last year, and bear in mind that Coors tends to cause curves to break much less than at sea level. Put them together, and there's reason to believe Chatwood provides a big potential profit at low cost, though it also shouldn't be ignored that he has never struck out even 20 percent of hitters in a big-league season or pitched more than 167 1/3 innings in any pro year. He comes with limitations but is one of the more interesting late-round mixed-league picks.
2018 Outlook: After saving 39 games in 45 opportunities with the Diamondbacks in 2017, Rodney signed a one-year deal with the Twins during the offseason. His outings are always nerve-wracking for fans, and his 4.4 career BB/9 means he rarely gets through an inning cleanly. Still, the veteran closer has managed to record 300 career saves and looks locked into Minnesota's ninth-inning role to begin the season. Keep in mind, however, that Rodney probably won't have much job security with Addison Reed having also been added to the bullpen. Rodney's 4.23 ERA last season was high for a closer and he will pitch the entirety of the 2018 at age 41, so there's significant risk that his arm will finally fail him this year and cost him his job. He will remain a useful fantasy asset for only as long as he is closing.
2018 Outlook: The Texas bullpen roles are up for grabs at this point, with numerous relievers competing for favorable positioning within the team's bullpen hierarchy, particularly the closer's role. Kela's walk rate would be high for a ninth-inning pitcher, and he would be one of the more extreme fly ball pitchers in the role should he inherit it during the 2018 season. However, he seemingly has the most upside of any of the options. The holdup with Kela is that he must stay ahead to use his great curve to get strikeouts, as his fastball alone performs slightly below average in terms of generating whiffs. The closer's job is his for the taking, but he must cut down on the free passes to make the most of the opportunity.