Devon Travis stepping up for injury riddled Toronto Blue Jays

May 21, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis (29) reacts after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
May 21, 2017; Baltimore, MD, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis (29) reacts after hitting a home run in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

After a slow start to his season, Devon Travis has been on a tear in the month of May for the Toronto Blue Jays especially with key contributors out of the lineup.

After a dreadful start to the season, the Toronto Blue Jays are 11-9 in the month of May. The story of the 2017 campaign has been the injuries that have plagued the team, forcing other players to step up.

One of those players has been Devon Travis, who has been hitting on a torrid pace this month. Despite hitting only his second home run of the season that propelled the Blue Jays to a 3-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday, he has been a monster at the plate for the team.

Where the numbers don’t lie for Travis is the number of doubles he has this month, hitting 14 of his 16 for the season. It is the most in the league for the month of May and one off the franchise record in a month, set by Fred Lewis in 2010.

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It should not be surprising to receive this production from Travis, considering he has always been a consistent performer at the plate. So what has led to this turnaround?

In a recent article for The Toronto Star, Laura Armstrong references a small change to Travis’ approach at the plate. She writes that since the last series against the New York Yankees, the 26-year old has been standing a bit farther from the plate.

That change has resulted in 24 hits, which includes 14 doubles in the last 22 games. That type of adjustment is sometimes all a batter needs to regain confidence, and apparently Travis has found that groove once again.

It was a tough start to the season for Travis, hitting a slash line of .130/.193/.195 with an on-base percentage of .388. However, in the month of May the second baseman has been a totally different player at the plate with a slash line of .369/.382/.613 and a on-base percentage of 1.1013.

Toronto Blue Jays
May 17, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis (29) jumps for a high throw as Atlanta Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte (11) slides into second base during the first inning at SunTrust Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports /

The main topic of conversation around Travis heading into the season was whether he would be able to remain on the field. He suffered a knee injury last season which required him to miss time during spring training.

This probably contributed to his slow start. Being patient in his recovery may have been for the right decision because so far – Travis has shown no sign of physical ailments, playing 39 of 45 games.

Travis told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet that he has been encouraged by the fact he has been able to remain healthy:

"“This is sweet, for sure,” he said. “To be able to play every day and play without pain. I can show up to the yard every day and I can focus on baseball and not worry about how my knee’s feeling or if I’m going to make it through the day. It’s a beautiful thing. I’m just so happy to be healthy and out here playing.”"

When looking at Travis’ numbers on Fangraphs the one things that stand out for him is ISO, which stands for isolated power and measures the average number of extra bases per at bat. In the last two weeks Travis is hitting an ISO average of .326 which is third on the team behind only Justin Smoak and Jose Bautista, who have hit more home runs this season.

That Travis has been getting more balls in play for extra bases without hitting the long ball is impressive. It also shows the different dynamic he provides the Blue Jays’ offence, making him and Kevin Pillar reliable hitters at the plate with Smoak not too far behind.

Travis was hitting lower in the lineup after starting the season in the lead-off spot. With injuries to Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, and Steve Pearce it forced the team to move him to fifth in the batting order. Once they return there will be a debate on where Travis will hit in the lineup.

Pearce will likely shift lower in the order, although it appeared he was turning it around before getting injured. If he can get it going, it would make sense to have him lower in the lineup to turn it over to the bigger bats.

Donaldson and Bautista will likely hit second and third, while Kendrys Morales gets the clean up spot. It would then make sense to have Tulowitzki in the five spot and put Travis right behind him.

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The team can also move Travis up and down the lineup and still expect production from him, as long as they do not ask him to bunt! This is where the Blue Jays need to find success until they get healthy and string together another winning streak.