It’s only been two batters, but they were formidable opponents in the most pressurized of situations and for now, Justin De Fratus is 2 for 2 in these encounters.
In two games, facing two potent sluggers, De Fratus countered power with power and loved every second of it.
During Tuesday’s 6-2 win over Cleveland, the Phillies were clinging to a 4-2 lead in the eighth inning and the Indians had runners on the corners and one out.
De Fratus came in to face Mark Reynolds, who entered the night tied for the American League with 11 home runs.
The righthander threw two pitches, the second a 94 mile per hour fastball that Reynolds popped up to second baseman Freddy Galvis.
That was the end of De Fratus' evening, a brief but important performance.
This came on the heels of 2013 Phillies debut when he faced Paul Goldschmidt with a runner on first and two outs in the ninth inning of a 2-2 tie.
De Fratus struck out Goldschmidt on a 3-2 fastball and the Phillies then won the game with two runs in the 10th innings.
Like Reynolds, Goldschmidt has been mashing the ball, with 10 home runs and a .993 OPS (entering Tuesday).
“Anytime, whether it’s the fourth innings, sixth inning, eighth inning, anytime you can get the job done, your confidence is going to build,” De Fratus said after Tuesday’s win. “And obviously in later innings, it will build a little more.”
De Fratus, who appeared in 13 games for the Phillies last season, thrives on the one-on-one challenge in big situations.
“If you have good life on your fastball, there is no reason not to challenge the hitter,” he said. “That is something I have done my whole minor league career and hope to continue doing.”
Then he outlined the true reason for being a successful reliever.
“It’s about pitching without fear,” he said. “Most of the time it ends up working out, but you are going to get beat at times.”
And that won’t deter De Fratus.
“He (the batter) is paid too, but you have to go out and challenge him and see what he can do with it,” De Fratus said.
So even if he doesn’t succeed and all relievers go through a certain degree of failure, De Fratus is going to do it on his terms.
“I would be lying if I said my confidence wasn’t growing every time I get somebody out,” he said. “It’s a situation I enjoy pitching in and hope to continue doing it.”
If he keeps striking out feared power hitters, those chances should continue.