Brewers rookie pitcher facing murky role upon imminent return from injury

DL Hall is set to return from a knee injury, but what will his role be?
Milwaukee Brewers v Baltimore Orioles
Milwaukee Brewers v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages
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Since the acquisition of DL Hall prior to the season expectations have been very high. He was a consensus top pitching prospect while in the Orioles organization who had not been given a full opportunity in the major leagues as a starter. Hall did find success however, late in 2023 pitching out of the bullpen for Baltimore, to a tune of a 3.26 ERA.

Fast forward to 2024 in Milwaukee, Hall was given a role in the Opening Day rotation as a starter and received continual support from manager Pat Murphy that he would be a starter moving forward. Unfortunately, Hall never truly got his footing early this season. Eventually the velocity was starting to fall and Hall found his ERA climbing to 7.71 over four total starts. After his start on April 20th, it was determined DL Hall required an IL stint due to a knee injury.

Should DL Hall join the Brewers rotation or the bullpen?

Now in July, Hall is healthy and has finished a promising rehab assignment. He has made eight minor league appearances, all starts with a 1.84 ERA. So there's no question he is ready to resume his starting role with the Brewers, right? Wrong. The detail that brings into question Hall’s role in Milwaukee is innings. Hall has maxed out at 3 innings per appearance, with both of them coming in his final two starts with normal starter rest between outings. 

Can this work in Milwaukee? The Brewers are desperate for starting pitching, as they added two additional starters recently in Aaron Civale and Dallas Kuechel. Is there room for Hall in the current rotation?

We’ve already seen Bryse Wilson moved back into the bullpen after a stint at starter. My ideal role for DL Hall as far as 2024 in concerned is actually a role currently open due to another IL stint, the Jared Koenig role. Koenig, a fellow lefty, has served as an opener and high leverage arm. This is the role I believe best suits DL Hall as he comes off the IL within the next week. 

It’s clear the best way to keep Hall healthy is to monitor innings, and slowly stretch him out. Serving as an opener allows Hall to help the team by committing to 2-3 innings, knowing that’s all he needs to worry about that day. Not going 7, 6, or even 5 innings. This could also be seen as “once through the order” initially.

This will also aid manager Pat Murphy by being able to schedule his bullpen to accommodate, and still use Hall as a reliever on days that would be a starters normal bullpen day. If this method were to be successful, the club could gradually increase workload and by August or September we could very well see a healthy DL Hall going 5+ innings of meaningful baseball. 

Long term, I still believe Milwaukee and their fans should view DL Hall as a starter in the rotation. It is evident that he is not currently ready for that large workload. Using him as mentioned above will not only help the Brewers in 2024, but allow DL Hall to gradually build up and then fully commit with the aid of the Milwaukee staff to being a more traditional starter during the offseason. 

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