A starter his whole life, Matt Hall jumped headfirst into a bullpen role this season. But he's not complaining now that he takes the ball at the beginning of the game again. Making his third start of the season, the No. 23 Detroit prospect allowed two hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings
A starter his whole life, Matt Hall jumped headfirst into a bullpen role this season.
But he's not complaining now that he takes the ball at the beginning of the game again.
Making his third start of the season, the No. 23 Detroit prospect allowed two hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings Monday, fanning eight and walking one in Double-A Erie's 11-1 rout of Bowie at UPMC Park. Hall has not permitted a run in 15 1/3 consecutive innings, dating back to the last appearance he made as a reliever on June 19. And he hasn't given up an earned run since June 5.
"[The Tigers] kind of told me at the beginning of the year that I'd be throwing long in case I do need to go back as a starter," the 24-year-old said. "So, I mean, it's definitely a lot more fun being a starter again, that's for sure."
Hall (4-2) kept the Baysox out of the hit column through the first five innings, racking up seven punchouts along the way. The Missouri State product issued a one-out walk in the second inning to Aderlin Rodriguez, the only Bowie baserunner until Erick Salcedo led off the sixth with a single. Hall erased Salcedo by getting Armando Araiza to ground into a double play.
"I just figured I would throw which pitch I could to best get a ground ball, to hopefully go as deep into the game as I could," the 2015 sixth-round pick said. "[Catcher Jake Rogers] called the pitch that I needed. [I] ended up getting it down right and got the double play I needed."
D'Arby Myers followed with an infield single, but Hall fanned Anthony Santander swinging to end the frame. The 6-foot lefty credited his batterymate -- the sixth-ranked Tigers prospect -- for guiding him through the outing.
Gameday box score
"We were on the same page all night and my defense made some pretty spectacular plays behind me as well," Hall said. "He knows how to call a game very well. He does a great job receiving pitches. Mainly, he just keeps the pitchers with a good pace and tempo."
Hall retired the only hitter he faced in the seventh, getting Corban Joseph to ground out to second. He threw a season-high 79 pitches -- 52 for strikes. With a pitch count of 80, the June 2017 Florida State League Player of the Month said he hopes it was the last outing with a restriction this season.
"I think today was my last night with a leash," he said. "I should be able to stretch out and see how far I can go now. But we'll see. It's not my call. I just do what I'm told."
Until June 22, the Independence, Missouri native had operated in a bullpen role. Hall made his first start that night and held Altoona scoreless for four frames. On three days' rest, he held Reading off the board for five innings in his next start.
Hall thinks he was able to jump back into starting with relative ease because his relief outings often went multiple innings.
"I just try to go out there every day and put my team with a chance to win," he said. "[Starting is] something I've done my whole life, so I still have somewhat of a feel for it."
The southpaw was charged with two unearned runs in his final relief outing on June 19 against New Hampshire, when automatic extra-inning runners crossed the plate. But scoreless streaks are nothing new for Hall. With Class A Advanced Lakeland last season, he pieced together 30 1/3 shutout innings and didn't allow an earned run over seven consecutive starts spanning 43 innings.
Until recently, walks sometimes hindered Hall. But over his last seven appearances, he's given up two total free passes.
"In the past, walks have been my issue," he said. "Everything's just starting to click and fall into place right now. ... I basically said I'm just going to start attacking hitters more."
While Hall enjoys starting, he is ready to be used whatever way the Tigers deem appropriate.
"I'm just going to go out there every night to do what I can to help put my team in a chance to win," he said. "If they want me back as a bullpen guy, then I'll go back as a bullpen guy. Whatever's best for the team at the time, for sure. I just stick [with it] and do as I'm told."
Tenth-ranked Tigers prospect Daz Cameron homered, doubled, drove in three runs and walked. Chad Sedio and Cam Gibson recorded three hits apiece.
Chris Bumbaca is a contributor for MiLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca.