There’s not much focus in the moments after a ballclub clinches something as significant as the Orioles did a week ago when they locked down the AL East for the first time since 2014. It’s all hugs and champagne and cigar smoke.

Yet away from it all after the Orioles clinched Thursday night, Brandon Hyde sat in the relative quiet of his chair in the Camden Yards interview room and uttered as succinct a descriptor of DL Hall as could be spoken.

“He’s got great stuff,” Hyde said, “and we got him here at the right time.”

Playoff baseball typically comes with a few pitching features; shorter starts due to the high stakes of the games, more frequent appearances for top relievers, given built-in days off in the schedule, and a preference for the hot hand. All those signs could point to Hall being summoned from the Orioles’ bullpen quite frequently.

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The Orioles have starters who will throw more innings in October, and relievers who might earn more saves. They have former top prospects who have longer track records of contributing to the major league club. October baseball, however, more often than not comes down to talent, and in Hall, the Orioles have an uber-talented arm that could prove to be the ultimate playoff weapon as they seek to bridge games from their breakout starters to the back end of the bullpen.

“DL has proven so far that he’s pounding the strike zone and has multiple pitches he can get righties and lefties out with, so I think he’s getting more comfortable,” Hyde said. “Also, he likes the big spot. ... I feel comfortable with him in any spot.”

It’s worth noting that the plan for Hall was never to be in any spot but the starting rotation. A first-round pick in 2017, Hall made his major league debut in 2022 in the Orioles’ rotation but was then transitioned into a relief role for the last two months of the season to manage his innings. He was slated to work as a starter and compete for a rotation spot this spring, but entered camp with a back injury that delayed the start of his season. It also, crucially, kept him from being able to do much strength training, and Hall lost some fastball velocity and life on his pitches as a result.

So, he and the Orioles devised a plan to rebuild his arm strength, first on a limited schedule in Norfolk, Virginia, and then with a dedicated training plan in Sarasota, Florida. That helped him find his effectiveness again, but didn’t do anything to build him up the way he would need to in order to be a starter. This year was just a necessary detour to help the Orioles win games, and he could be involved in plenty such games this month.

“Starting and relieving is a lot different, but I think it all ultimately helps me for when I do get back to starting, having that aggressive mentality of just going right at guys out of the bullpen,” Hall said. “I’m hoping that translates over into starting again next year.”

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It’s more than helping now. Since he was recalled to take the injured Félix Bautista’s roster spot on Aug. 26, Hall has been the Orioles’ most effective reliever by many measurements. His ERA of 2.76 is second-best behind Cionel Perez’s 2.61, but Hall’s 1.04 WHIP is lowest among Orioles relievers with at least 10 innings since that day. He’s striking out nearly a batter per inning (8.8), which is lower than his career average, but walking just 2.2 batters per nine. Through limiting hard contact and throwing strikes, Hall’s expected stats are similarly attractive as his actual ones. And while he doesn’t have enough innings to qualify for many statistical categories, his percentile chart on, which houses MLB’s Statcast data, puts him at least above-average and in some cases elite in nearly every metric it measures.

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher DL Hall (24) celebrates with catcher Adley Rutschman after allowing no runs in the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Hall believes his starting experience, and the pitch mix he’s honed as a starter, is allowing that to happen. In addition to a fastball that has averaged 95.6 mph and is hard to square up, Hall has an elite weapon for hitters on each side of the plate: a slider for lefties and a change-up for righties. Hitters also have to respect his curveball, a slower pitch that has allowed exclusively weak contact when he’s used it in the majors.

“It’s been big being able to use both of my breaking balls. It’s kind of hard when lefties are just getting used to only seeing fastball/slider, so being able to have my curveball back, using my curveball to both sides as well, I think it’s kind of added an extra weapon that the left and right side have to worry about versus kind of the same two pitches, fastball change-up to righties, fastball-slider to lefties,” Hall said. “Being able to use all four against both sides has been big for me.”

In particular, Hall’s ability to get righties out could allow Hyde to use him any number of ways in the postseason. He’s shown faith in him in multi-inning roles before — that clinching game on Thursday against Boston was one of them — and that includes battling plenty of right-handed hitters. He’s faced 36 since he was recalled on Aug. 26, striking out eight while allowing six hits and walking four.

That success, plus the Orioles’ relatively unsettled bullpen, means Hall could be primed for a significant role in the ALDS and beyond. So, too, could one-time starters Tyler Wells and Jack Flaherty. But Hall, who has been in the Orioles’ organization longer than any pitcher other than John Means, is relishing the opportunity to contribute on such a stage. He said his body “runs off of” big moments like what the playoffs could provide, and though he’s emboldened by examples of pitchers who go on to be star starting pitchers after playoff success in the bullpen, he’s been through too much to try and focus on any path but his own.

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“Everyone has their own journey,” Hall said. “Mine has been a lot different than what I would have planned when I first got drafted, but there’s definitely optimism in seeing how the bullpen can help me starting and how starting can help in the bullpen.”