HOUSTON — Lost in the justifiable hubbub surrounding the acquisition of right-hander Justin Verlander from the Detroit Tigers was the Houston Astros’ claiming of outfielder Cameron Maybin off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.
Maybin became expendable when the Tigers executed another trade earlier Thursday, shipping left fielder Justin Upton to the Angels. The Astros pounced at the opportunity to add Maybin to their outfield mix, anxious to enhance their roster depth with his speed and glove.
Maybin made his debut with the Astros (82-53) in the opener of their doubleheader with the New York Mets on Saturday, delivering an RBI single in his first plate appearance as well as his American League-leading 30th stolen base.
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Houston entered the weekend ranked fourth in the AL with 82 steals, with second baseman Jose Altuve tied with Maybin atop the league rankings.
“Cam will bring a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “He plays with a bounce in his step that’s infectious. His defense is exceptional. He’ll play mostly left field when he gets in there moving forward depending on Jake Marisnick and George Springer.
“I think he’s going to bring some balance to an already excitable clubhouse. His personality, his perspective, his willingness to do anything whether it’s bat sixth, bat ninth, come off the bench and steal a base, he’s built the right way and I think that type of addition to a clubhouse that’s one of the more fun ones in baseball is a perfect fit.”
Right-hander Mike Fiers (8-9, 4.55 ERA) will start the series finale for the Astros. He is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three career appearances (two starts) against the Mets.
Fiers labored in August, going 1-4 with a 7.44 ERA in six starts and is likely to be dropped from the rotation once Verlander settles in and Lance McCullers is reinstated from the disabled list on Wednesday.
Rookie right-hander Christopher Flexen (3-3, 6.89 ERA) will make his eighth start of the season. It will mark his first career appearance against the Astros.
Flexen made his debut on July 27 and has worked at least six innings only once, a 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Aug. 23 when he allowed two runs, six hits and four walks with five strikeouts in six innings.
The Mets (58-77) also welcomed a new veteran outfielder into the fold, signing Norichika Aoki after he was released by the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 29. Aoki opened the season with the Astros before being shipped to Toronto (along with minor league outfielder Teoscar Hernandez) at the non-waiver deadline for left-hander Francisco Liriano.
Having punted on the season, the Mets opted to bring Aoki aboard to provide depth to a largely youthful outfield. While he finished 1-for-5 in his first start with his third club this season, Aoki appears positioned to help the Mets down the stretch of what has been a disappointing campaign.
“I can see he hasn’t played in a few days,” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “I can tell you that. I’ve seen him enough to know what kind of player he is. He’ll be fine, we just need to get him some at-bats.”