2016 Outlook: At first glance, it may appear as though Kimbrel's one-year stop in San Diego marks the beginning of a gradual decline. After all, his 2.58 ERA was the highest mark he's posted over six big league seasons. Upon further review, he doesn't seem to be in decline at all, as he finished the season on a high note by delivering a 39:8 K:BB and 1.73 ERA over 26 innings after the All-Star break. With two years and a team option for 2018 left on his contract, the Padres decided that Kimbrel was a luxury they did not need. Traded to Boston for Manuel Margot and Javier Guerra in November, Kimbrel will close for the Red Sox in 2016 as he continues to build the foundation of a resume that should garner consideration for Cooperstown someday. Since arriving in the big leagues in 2010, Kimbrel has struck out 41.2 percent of the batters he's faced. He's also managed to increase the average velocity on his fastball every year he's been in the big leagues, topping out at 97.3 MPH last season.
2016 Outlook: Buchholz entered 2015 as the ace of Boston's rotation, and he pitched like one for much of the season. The right-hander had a decent first half of the season, with a 7-7 record, 3.26 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. He also had an outstanding 4.65 K/BB ratio, thanks mostly to his impeccable control shown through his 1.8 BB/9, an outstanding 0.5 HR/9 and a 2.74 FIP. Despite all of these numbers pointing toward a good year, Buchholz was shut down halfway through the season due to elbow issues. Thankfully there was no ligament damage, so Buchholz should have a clean bill of health heading into 2016. That said, he has had some durability issues in the past, which makes him a bit of a risky pick going forward. He is best suited for shallower leagues where competent replacements are available on the waiver wire for when he likely misses time.
2016 Outlook: Boston's acquisition of Craig Kimbrel will push Uehara to the setup role despite his excellent work as closer for the past three years, during which he recorded 72 saves in 82 chances. Uehara will be the clear choice for Boston, should injuries sideline Kimbrel, but even in a setup role, fantasy owners may still have some use for him. Uehara is a reliable strikeout machine, having struck out at least 10 batters per nine innings every year since 2010. And Uehara is a rate buzz saw, as he hasn't posted an ERA above 3.00 nor a WHIP above 1.00 in that same span. Particularly for those in leagues that values holds or have enough roster spots to justify holding on to middle relievers, Uehara projects to be one of the best bets among the non-closer class.
2016 Outlook: Tazawa seemed to run out of gas late last year, as he carried a 2.60 ERA through July but allowed a ridiculous 24 hits and 14 runs in his final 13.2 innings (9.22 ERA) to raise his season ERA to 4.14 before he was shut down in mid-September. Tazawa had been excellent the three previous seasons, with a 2.62 ERA and 181 strikeouts in 175.1 innings from 2012 through 2014, and if he looks right in spring training, expect a return to form. However, he's far removed from save opportunities this year behind both Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara in the Red Sox bullpen.
2016 Outlook: Well, the fun didn't last long. Smith was a top-10 reliever in baseball last year and looked poised to be the Mariners' closer of the future, but then he was traded to Boston along with Roenis Elias in exchange for Wade Miley. In Boston, his chances of picking up a noteworthy amount of saves are very slim. He is probably third in line behind Craig Kimbrel and Koji Uehara in the pecking order, as the Red Sox have copied several other AL East teams in putting together an otherworldly bullpen. In deep leagues where setup men with excellent K-rates and outstanding ratios have value, Smith should still be rostered, but he can be ignored in shallow rotisserie leagues and points leagues this year.