5 important things we learned about the Cubs in April

Chicago Cubs v Miami Marlins
Chicago Cubs v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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Despite closing out the month dropping 7 of 10, the Chicago Cubs have managed to stay in the hunt early on, entering Monday's matchup against the Nationals just five games out in the NL Central and one back of a Wild Card spot.

The Cubs' postseason chances improved by quite a bit, roughly doubling since Opening Day. That being said, Fangraphs still pegs their odds at just 20.7 percent, hardly odds you want to put money down on. As the old saying goes, you can't win a division in April - but you sure can lose it - and Chicago, if nothing else, did enough to still be relevant heading into May (unlike the other team in the Windy City).

Here are 5 important things we learned about the Cubs in April - and what we can take away as we look ahead to May and the rest of the season.

5 important things we learned about the Cubs: #5 - Marcus Stroman is setting himself up for an opt out and a big-time payday this winter

Marcus Stroman's performance in April has him looking like a near-guarantee to opt out of his deal at the end of the season. The veteran right-hander made six starts, working to a 1.047 WHIP and 2.29 ERA, teaming up with Justin Steele as a dependable staple atop the rotation.

Stroman's deal has a $21 million player option for 2024 - and given the fact he will pitch at age 33 next year, he'll want to cash in on one more bigtime payday on a multi-year deal in free agency. It's not just a half-dozen high quality starts we need to be looking at here. After a rocky start to the 2022 season, battling COVID and then a separate injury, the former All-Star has been a true ace.

After the All-Star Break last summer, Stroman played a huge part in the Cubs' strong second haflf push, making 14 starts and working to a 2.71 ERA. Now, with an elite defense behind him, especially up the middle, he's got his eyes set on earning another Midsummer Classic nod to his resume in 2023.