2018 Outlook: Both Gray's curveball and slider register some of the highest spin rates in the game, and on the quality of those two pitches alone, he's plenty capable of producing numbers worthy of top-40 fantasy starter status. Injuries have held him back in each of the past two seasons, however, lowering his statistical ceiling from its former top-20 levels. Following his trade to the Yankees, Gray's control faltered, his walk rate rising to 9.7 percent in 11 starts, something of greater concern because of his home park's home run-friendly nature. He's a pitcher you'll probably need to mix and match as you can, though in Rotisserie leagues where his wins will have greater value, he's a worthwhile midround selection.
2018 Outlook: Thanks in large part to an uptick in both the velocity and spin rate of his fastball, Knebel enjoyed a closer season for the ages. He became only the third pitcher in history with at least 35 saves, 125 strikeouts and an ERA beneath 2.00, with the strikeouts especially attractive in an era when starting-pitcher workloads are declining. Knebel's skills improvements now lock him into a top-10 floor in fantasy with top-five draft value regardless of format, but he'll need to improve his 12.9 percent walk rate and/or increase his 39.0 percent ground-ball rate if he's to repeat his sparkling ERA. Expect some regression with his ratios, which is the main thing keeping him from making a legitimate run at the top spot at his position.
2018 Outlook: Colome's 47 saves paced all major leaguers by six, but his strikeout rate plummeted from 31.4 to 20.6 percent, resulting in a bloated 4.36 FIP. While that suggests he was supremely lucky to have the kind of ninth-inning success that he did, bear in mind that his greater reliance upon a cutter last year -- he threw them 65.3 percent of the time -- showed a distinct attempt to go for ground balls and weaker contact, rather than an overpowering approach. The greater concern is that Colome, as the closer for a rebuilding Rays team, is one of the top candidates for a trade, meaning he could see his saves turn into holds if dealt. He's a worthwhile No. 2 option for a fantasy team, but he's not without risk.
2018 Outlook: Familia missed significant time last season to both a suspension and a long stint on the disabled list. He wasn't immediately reinstated as the closer upon his return and he finished the year with just six saves and a 4.38 ERA in 24.2 innings. The 28-year-old could be a good buy-low candidate, as he looks to be the Mets' primary closer heading into this season. However, the presence of former Marlins closer AJ Ramos and addition of Anthony Swarzak leave Familia with little margin for error. There are some real red flags which suggest Familia could continue to struggle in 2018 (a falling strikeout rate and rising walk rate), though they can probably be attributed in part to his injury issues. A fully healthy Familia could be a bargain at his reduced cost.
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: Maeda threw 134.1 solid frames for the Dodgers last season, winning 13 games while putting up a 4.22 ERA. He posted better than average strikeout and walk rates (25.1 percent and 6.1 percent) and could have had a slightly better ERA (3.89 according to xFIP) if not for an unlucky 15 percent HR/FB rate. Maeda's value going forward is impacted by the unique practices of the Dodgers' organization. Playing on a team with an excellent lineup and bullpen would normally pad Maeda's win totals, but the Dodgers keep their starters' workloads low and make liberal use of the 10-day disabled list. Maeda could easily find himself on the DL or in the bullpen for part of the season regardless of how well he pitches. At 29 years old to begin the season, he should be a serviceable option again in 2018, but other pitchers with similar skills will likely provide more innings and thus more fantasy value.
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: A hot start for Triple-A Durham, during which he had a 3.07 ERA and eye-popping 34.7 percent strikeout rate in 11 starts, boosted Faria's prospect stock and ultimately earned him an audition with the Rays beginning last June. Thanks in large part to one of the best-performing changeups in the majors and balancing his righty/lefty splits, he held his own in 14 starts and two relief appearances, narrowly missing the Player Rater top 300 in that limited sample. Faria begins 2018 as a member of the Rays rotation, with control being his final obstacle to joining the top-40 fantasy starting pitchers. He had an altogether too-high 10.7 percent rate after the All-Star break, continuing to show the elevated rates he did in Double- and Triple-A. He's one of the more intriguing mid-round picks, especially if he has a strong spring.
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.