Cubs

The most mind-boggling facts about Willson Contreras' monster day

The most mind-boggling facts about Willson Contreras' monster day

Maybe the Cubs ought to think about having a Willson Contreras bobblehead day more often.

On the day fans at Wrigley Field received a tiny plastic Contreras figurine, the Cubs catcher went BIG in real life in the first game of the 2018 Crosstown series.

Contreras hit a grand slam in the first inning, picked a runner off second base and then proceeded to hammer another homer and two doubles to finish with a career-high 7 RBI.

It's days like these why I was all aboard the Contreras MVP bandwagon before the season

And it's weeks like these why so many people have valid arguments that Contreras is the best catcher in baseball right now.

Friday's performance in the Cubs' 11-2 victory over the White Sox was certainly legendary, but Contreras had a game to remember Wednesday, too, collected two triples and a double while scoring a pair of runs and driving in one.

He woke up Wednesday morning with a .230 batting average, .315 on-base percentage and .354 slugging percentage (.669 OPS). Two games later, he now boasts a .268/.343/.488 slash line with an .831 OPS. 

Yes, over the course of just two games, Contreras raised his season OPS 162 full points.

He's also the only Cub ever to collect seven extra-base hits in a two-game span (research goes back to the 1913 season).

"I think we all knew it was coming," Friday's Cubs starter Tyler Chatwood said. "It was just a matter of time before he broke through a little bit."

Contreras can't point to anything specific behind his big game.

"I just think that it's part of the game," he said. "Baseball is one of ups and downs and it was just a matter of getting in the right rhythm. I think of the beginning of this year to that of last year, I'm not expecting myself to have the same start to every season, but it's just a matter of making adjustments necessary on the field."

Here are more mind-boggling facts on Contreras' monster game:

FanGraphs rated him as worth .4 WAR just for the one game:

You'd have to go back to 2006 to find a game this good from any Cubs hitter:

It might be the best Crosstown performance ever:

So what led to such an explosive game from the Cubs catcher?

"He's just good," Joe Maddon said. "When a guy's good, if he's not hurt, I think he's eventually gonna show up. You know how hard he is on himself. He's getting the ball on the barrel. ... I just think it was a matter of time."

So it had nothing to do with his bobblehead?

"You know what? I didn't even realize that," Maddon joked, "but more than anything I just said, that's absolutely correct. It had everything to do with the bobblehead."

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

Report: Giants interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for manager opening

The Giants' search for a successor to now-retired manager Bruce Bochy has led them to the North Side.

According to NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic, the Giants are interested in Cubs first base coach Will Venable for their own managerial opening. San Francisco's interest is intriguing, as Venable went to high school just outside San Francisco in nearby San Rafael. His father â€” Max Venable â€” played for the Giants from 1979-83. 

Venable also interviewed for the Cubs' manager job earlier this month, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that his interest is in the "organization in general." He is one of several internal candidates for the Cubs' job, along with bench coach Mark Loretta and front office assistant David Ross.

The Cubs also interviewed Joe Girardi and are set to meet with Astros bench coach Joe Espada and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.

Former Cub Mark Prior 'likely' to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

mark_prior.jpg
USA TODAY

Former Cub Mark Prior 'likely' to take over as Dodgers pitching coach in 2020

Mark Prior's big-league playing career unfortunately fizzled out due to recurring injury woes, but he's making a name for himself in the coaching realm.

With Dodgers current pitching coach Rick Honeycutt transitioning into a new role, Prior is expected to takeover the position starting next season.

Cubs fans know the story of Prior's playing career all too well. The Cubs drafted him second overall in the 2001, with Prior making his MLB debut just a season later. He went on to dominate in 2003, posting an 18-6 record, 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts in 30 starts, a season in which he made the All-Star Game and finished third in the NL Cy Young Award voting.

However, Prior's season ended on a sour note, as he was on the mound during the Steve Bartman incident in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS. Prior exited the game with a 3-1 lead, but the Cubs surrendered seven more runs that inning, eventually falling to the Marlins 8-3 before losing Game 7 the next day. 

Prior struggled to stay healthy after 2003, eventually retiring in 2013 after multiple comeback attempts. While many blame his injury-riddled career on former Cubs manager Dusty Baker, Prior does not. 

While we can only wonder what could've been with Prior to the pitcher, it's good to see him still making an impact in baseball in some fashion.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Cubs games easily on your device.