With a three-game lead in the race for the National League’s second wild-card spot, the Chicago Cubs will play host to the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN). Here are some of the key storylines for the game.
Lester on track for milestone in stolen bases allowed
Jon Lester (8-8), the Cubs’ scheduled starter, has allowed a major league-high 35 stolen bases in 23 games this season. The last Cubs pitcher to allow that many in a season was Rick Sutcliffe in 1987, who also allowed 35.
The most stolen bases allowed in a season by a left-handed pitcher in the last 50 years is 42, a tally reached twice by Randy Johnson (1992, 1999) and once by Steve Avery (1992). Lester is on pace for 50 stolen bases allowed.
Lester has a minus-5 Defensive Runs Saved mark for stolen bases (and minus-8 DRS overall).
Allowing stolen bases isn't necessarily a sign of ineffective performance by a pitcher, however. The three pitchers closest to Lester in stolen bases allowed this season are Tyson Ross, A.J. Burnett and Cole Hamels.
Lester has thrown over to first base three times this season. He made no pickoff throws to first in 2014.
The Tigers’ 68 stolen bases are tied with the Padres for 12th in the major leagues.
Tigers welcome Cabrera back
Miguel Cabrera, whose calf injury caused him to miss 35 games in a stretch that ran from early July through Friday, doesn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, but among American League hitters with at least 250 at-bats, he is at the top of the list.
The Tigers were 15-20 without Cabrera and dropped nine games further back of the Royals in the American League Central standings while the All-Star first baseman was out of the lineup.
Cabrera's 1,426 career RBIs makes him the major leagues’ all-time leader in RBIs by a Venezuela-born player. He passed Andres Galarraga (1,425) on Sunday.
Cabrera also leads Venezuela-born hitters in home runs (406) and wins above replacement (63.9).
The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo leads all of baseball in OPS among left-handed batters against left-handed pitchers (1.005). Much of Rizzo’s success has come on the road, though. His OPS against left-handers at Wrigley Field is .756, compared with 1.243 in road games against lefties
The Cubs have put together a 34-25 record at Wrigley Field despite averaging a run less at home (3.5 runs per game) than on the road (4.5).
Their batting average (.232) and slugging percentage (.367) at home are the lowest home-field statistics of any team in the major leagues.
The team is better at home than on the road when facing left-handed pitchers, such as the Tigers’ Daniel Norris (2-2), but the Cubs are still 25th in batting average (.230) and 26th in slugging percentage (.363) at home when facing lefties.