Gausman, rehab assignments, Britton and Bleier roles

With Kevin Gausman recording only five quality starts among his 20 outings this season, his ERA climbing to 6.39 in 100 innings, the Orioles aren’t resistant to the idea of sending him down to the minors. They just haven’t reached that point.

Whether an assignment at Triple-A Norfolk would benefit Gausman is open to debate.

“That’s a matter of, you can get a lot of opinions on the answer to that question,” said manager Buck Showalter. “I have my own thoughts and we listen to a lot of people, and if something like that was a possibility we were thinking about, he would hear about it. He wouldn’t read about something I responded to. But that’s always an option.”

Gausman allowed a career-high four home runs last night in three innings and tied his career high with eight runs surrendered.

Gausman-Throws-Black-Sidebar.jpg“Last night wasn’t the case, but in the Minnesota start, there were three innings there about as good as you want to see,” Showalter said. “I have a real opinion about what he does to pitch well and what he does when he doesn’t pitch well. We talk about it. His job, our job, is to figure out how to get from Point A to Point B, and we haven’t been able to do it consistently. It’s very frustrating. But some of it is just execution.

“Pitchers throw a ball to a target with different speeds for a living, different movement. And the guys who get the ball where they’re throwing it consistently have success. And Kevin’s not doing that right now. He’s not throwing the baseball where he’s aiming to throw it.

“That’s pretty simple, but that’s it in a nutshell. We have a lot of thoughts about why, but there’s periods where it happens and then it just goes away.”

Pitchers Mike Wright and Stefan Crichton will begin their injury rehab assignments on Monday, according to Showalter. Wright is on the disabled list retroactive to June 15 with right shoulder bursitis and Crichton is retroactive to June 27 with a right shoulder strain.

Hunter Harvey, the 22nd overall pick in the 2013 draft who’s recovering from ligament reconstructive surgery on his right elbow, will start a rehab assignment on Wednesday. The affiliate to be determined.

Pitcher Cody Sedlock, last year’s first-round pick, threw a 30-pitch bullpen session today at Single-A Frederick and didn’t experience any discomfort in his right forearm/elbow area.

“That was good to hear,” Showalter said.

The Orioles remain hopeful that infielder Ryan Flaherty can begin a rehab assignment late next week.

Left-hander Zach Britton apparently is nearing a return to the closer role. Britton logged another scoreless inning last night after entering the game in the eighth.

“His last two outings, that’s Zach,” Showalter said. “We’ve got multiple options there that I feel comfortable with. There’s a part of you that says, ‘Geez, you could mix and match and really create...’ When guys like Brad (Brach) and Zach and a couple of the other guys are on top of their game, it doesn’t really matter. But it allows me not to overuse somebody, which we haven’t done and won’t do.

“I think he’s very close to being capable of doing that again, from what I’ve seen. Especially the last two outings. Especially when you see the catchers having that much trouble catching him. You see the confidence.

“He throws a first-pitch breaking ball. Guys hear all these advance reports and all that stuff and all of a sudden he throws a good breaking ball over the plate for a strike and you see them step back and you know they’re going, ‘Really? That too?’ That was a good sign.”

Showalter confirmed that the Orioles have considered the idea of stretching out Richard Bleier as a starter. Bleier’s ERA is down to 1.38 in 32 2/3 innings.

“Certainly it crosses your mind because he can defend himself against right-handed hitters, but I don’t know for sure how that would play right now,” Showalter said. “He’s doing such a good job in that role, I’d hate to mess with it.”

Bleier is getting a decent amount of swings and misses on his cutter and he’s incorporating a changeup.

“He’s deceptive,” Showalter said. “If you watch his delivery, he’s one of the few guys who lands on his toes on the ball of his foot and doesn’t come off it. Most people go toe-heel. He goes toe and stays on it. That’s really unusual. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pitcher do that, but it works.”

Though Bleier worked 2 1/3 innings last night, Showalter said it wouldn’t surprise him if the left-hander insisted that he could pitch tonight if needed.

“We’d like to stay away from Richard, but one of the things that’s been attractive about him is he’s pretty resilient,” Showalter said. “I bet he’s going to stay that he can give us a hitter or two tonight, but I’d rather not.”

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