The Four Aces and . . . ?

While we await Cliff Lee taking the mound to sweep the free-falling and shell-shocked Marlins, how about we play a little bit of guess the player.  Here are four pitchers so far this season:

W-L ERA WHIP K/9 K/BB FIP
Player A 5-5 4.70 1.41 6.4 3.0 3.91
Player B 1-7 4.63 1.38 7.8 2.0 3.96
Player C 5-6 4.65 1.52 8.1 2.1 3.45
Player D 2-6 5.03 1.40 6.5 2.2 5.25

Think you know who they are?  Here's a hint: if you look at any MLB stat resource for 2011, you'll find players B through D but you won't be able to find player A.

Who they are appears after the jump.

Obviously, the Phillies' entire season has been about the four aces.  Other than a bit of mediocrity from Roy Oswalt, the four have delivered.  But what about the fifth starter, the non-ace?

If someone had told you the Phillies could have Ubaldo Jimenez, Chad Billingsley, or Brett Myers as their fifth starter, would that make you happy?  Well, as the chart above shows, they've had their equivalent (or better) so far.

As you can figure out by now, Player A is the cumulative stat line for Phillies' non-ace starters so far this season; Player B is ace of the Colorado Rockies, the pitcher who got the third highest number of votes for the NL Cy Young award last year, Ubaldo Jimenez; Player C is the number 2 starter on the Dodgers, who was an All-Star in 2009 and had a 3.57 ERA and 1.28 WHIP last year, Chad Billingsley; and Player D is the Astros' opening day starter and the tenth-highest vote-getter for the 2010 NL Cy Young award (tied with Tim Lincecum!), Brett Myers.

So far, the Phillies' non-ace starters, the motley mix of Joe Blanton, Vance Worley, and Kyle Kendrick, have held their own quite well when compared to other top-notch pitchers in the NL.  Considering they are the combined "fifth starter" for the Phillies, well, it's just another reason the team has the best record in baseball.

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