Now that the Milwaukee Brewers have clinched the NL Central division title and are locked into the No. 3 seed in the National League playoffs, they have the opportunity to give playing time to some players who have gotten minimal or zero playing time this season.
One of those players who was hoping to get another crack at the big leagues was left-handed pitcher Ethan Small. The Brewers' first round pick back in 2019 has been at the Triple-A level for some time now but has not seen much time in the majors in his professional career.
Small made his MLB debut last season, giving up five earned runs in 6.1 innings across a couple spot starts. His only other action as a big leaguer came earlier this season in May when he gave up five runs in three innings of mop up duty in a blowout loss against the Giants.
So it was safe to say that Small had something to prove whenever his next appearance at the Major League level might be. Well, the southpaw was recalled to the Brewers yesterday and then ended up getting his chance to shine to end the series finale against the Cardinals earlier today.
Former Brewers first rounder Ethan Small collected his first career MLB save against the Cardinals on Thursday.
Late last season, the Brewers started having Small work more primarily as a relief pitcher. He continued doing so in 2023 and his sole appearance for Milwaukee in May came out of the bullpen as well.
That was exactly the role that Small found himself in when he got the call to come into the game against the Cardinals this afternoon. Additionally, with the Brewers looking to rest some of their key relievers ahead of the postseason, Small was brought in with a save opportunity on the line in the bottom of the ninth inning of a 3-0 game.
At first, it looked like Small might breeze right through the inning. He began the ninth by inducing a two-pitch pop out from Richie Palacios and then striking out Juan Yepez. Things looked a little less certain, though, when he walked the next two Cardinals batters, bringing rookie Masyn Winn to the plate as the tying run.
That's as close as the Cards would get. Winn would end up popping out to Brewers catcher William Contreras and Small would earn the first save of his MLB career.
Small was solid in his first season working primarily as a reliever, compiling a 3.18 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 51 innings with 61 strikeouts and 24 walks. With the Brewers having had little luck finding another lefty to successfully compliment Hoby Milner in the bullpen, he may give Milwaukee something to think about when it comes to constructing the relief corps for the 2024 season.