Brewers: 3 DL Hall pitching metrics that may be contributing to his slow start

While the velocity is down, these three other factors may be bigger issues.
Apr 13, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA;  Milwaukee Brewers pitcher DL Hall (37) throws a third
Apr 13, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Milwaukee Brewers pitcher DL Hall (37) throws a third / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

New Milwaukee Brewers pitcher DL Hall has a lot of pressure on him. The 25-year-old, who was acquired during the Corbin Burnes trade, performed as a reliever with the Baltimore Orioles, but the Brew Crew views him as a potential long-term piece to their starting rotation.

Four starts into his Brewers career, Hall has an unappealing 7.71 ERA. Just one of his appearances has resulted in him covering five innings and, as a result, the bullpen has had extra usage and pressure put on them during his starts.

One noticeable difference from seasons past to this year has been the fact that his velocity is down. As a reliever he sat in the 95-96 MPH range with his fastball. This year, his average is 92 MPH and a few fastballs have been tracked in the high 80's.

It's possible that Hall will see an uptick in velocity as he adjusts to the demands of being a starting pitcher. However there are other metrics that are different from seasons past, so if he is going to stick around longer in the Brewers starting rotation, here are three things he could focus on outside of velocity.

The shape of DL Hall's fastball is drastically different to begin 2024.

Like several other pitchers, Hall's primary pitch is a fastball which he throws as a four-seamer. As mentioned, the velocity on this pitch is down a few ticks, but outside of miles per hour this pitch simply does not have the same shape as prior seasons.

In this case, Hall's fastball is not riding as high as it did previously. This can be measured by vertical movement which is a metric that looks at how much a pitch moves up or down from a point of zero. Baseball Savant has his 2024 vertical movement measured at -2.3 inches. In 2022 and 2023 he was in the 0.5-0.9 range.

In direct correlation with vertical movement is spin rate. Hall's 2024 spin rate on his fastball is currently 100-150 revolutions per minutes behind previous year's numbers. That said, if Hall can improve his spin rate then his vertical movement should improve as well. If he can accomplish this then he may also start generating more whiffs on a fastball with a 2024 whiff rate that is currently a dismal 10% (30% in 2023).

DL Hall is shying away from his slider in 2024.

When looking at the off-speed arsenal that Hall utilizes one thing that stands out is that he is shying away from his slider. As a reliever this was his second most utilized pitch at 21-25%. This year it's his least used pitch at 10% with his changeup second at 21% and curveball third at 20%.

At this time it is unclear if Hall is intentionally shying away from his slider or if opposing lineup constructions played a factor. The Brewers typically want players to lean into their strengths and what has made them successful in the past so perhaps as they try to get him figured out we get to see whether his pitch arsenal changes going forward.

Is DL Hall working at too fast of a tempo?

Last year Hall was one of the faster tempo players in the league at 14.2 seconds with the bases empty and 16.9 with a runner on. Four starts into 2024 the numbers show that he is working faster at 12.0 seconds with the bases empty and 16.5 with a runner on. His rate with the bases empty currently gives him the fifth fastest tempo in Major League Baseball.

A pitcher's tempo is a big thing for them. It's possible that four starts into his Brewers tenure that the game feels sped up to him and the numbers do objectively support that. Taking an extra second or two on the mound may help him relax, get more comfortable, and allow for a little bit more rest in between pitches.

As it stands today, manager Pat Murphy has not pulled the plug on Hall as a starting pitcher, but he has been placed on the injured list and acknowledged that some adjustments have to be made. These are three things that may be contributing to his struggles and hopefully he can correct some of these issues and get back on track.