While the weather is cooling down outside, things are heating up in here. As the days tick away in September, teams are loading their rosters and planning their postseason runs. Well, some of them at least. If you're still in contention in a fantasy league, you've got your work cut out for you as well. Allow us to take some of the load off with a rundown of some major stories swirling around the baseball planet. Welcome to Wednesday's edition of the Daily Dose.
* Carlos Zambrano is still having issues with his arm. After complaining of a "dead arm" over the weekend, Big Z had to leave Tuesday night's start a bit early and will meet with Dr. Stephen Gryzlo on Wednesday. Zambrano struggled through August with a 1-1 record and a 7.43 ERA, but nobody in their right mind would think losing him for the season isn't going to affect the psyche of that Cubs team. Let's not get ahead of ourselves though. Initial reports are saying it's just soreness.
If he is shut down, look for Sean Marshall to take over. I've always thought Marshall was, and is, sorely underused by the Cubbies. He's got a fantastic curve and posted a sub-4.00 ERA last year at the age of 24. This year, he's been given just five starts, and has put up a 4.03 ERA and a 45/15 K/BB ratio. The last time he was granted back-to-back starts was back in early July. Give the boy a chance.
* We almost had another cycle on Monday night. Andre Ethier needed just a double, but grounded out in the eighth. Still, he scored four times and the Dodgers beat the Padres 8-4 and inched a game closer to the Diamondbacks (they're currently 1.5 games back). Ethier has the center field position all locked up, much to the chagrin of the recently-activated Andruw Jones. Hey, let's compare some stats. Not that you need me to tell you Jones is terrible, but, come on, this could be fun. Andre Ethier: 26 years old. A line of 283/.347/.492, with 19 HR and 60 RBI in 453 at-bats. Andruw Jones: Oh wow. This is ugly. 31 years old. A line of .161/.261/.254, with 3 HR and 14 RBI in 205 at-bats. You don't need to be a Moneyball scholar to figure that one out.
* Ladies and gentlemen, we have a Yovani Gallardo sighting. The promising youngster who tore his right ACL in May tossed two simulated innings Tuesday at Miller Park. He could seriously contribute to this Brewers team in October, possibly even late September. Granted, it'd be in a relief role, but he's the same 22-year-old kid that started the season with a 1.80 ERA in three starts. He can only help a bullpen that still features Eric Gagne in middle relief.
* It looks like Josh Beckett will be able to return Friday from a three-week stint on the disabled list. He tossed a 58-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday and reported no problems. The Red Sox will keep him on a pretty tight leash. we're thinking 70 pitches. There's no reason to push the guy too much when the squad has a four-game lead in the Wild Card. Just a couple of days ago, he was headed off for a dreaded meeting with Dr. James Andrews. Yeah, the report from Doc was good, but the Sox need his 4-0 postseason record and oh, sure, they'll take his 1.20 late-October ERA.
* Jesus Flores was carted off the field on a stretcher Tuesday after an ugly collision with Chase Utley at home plate. It wasn't clear, from replay, how exactly Flores got injured, but Utley absolutely plowed him. There were limbs flying everywhere. The Nationals are calling it a left ankle sprain and manager Manny Acta said Flores could be ready in "10-12 days." Does it make sense to rush him back though? Sheesh, this is starting to feel like an advice column. Listen, Nats. you're 25 games back. Give the catching duties to Wil Nieves, or call up Luke Montz. Let Flores, who's just 23, gear up for next season.
AL Quick Hits: Travis Hafner (shoulder) still believes he'll be able to return this season . Alex Gordon will undergo an MRI exam on his torn quadriceps Thursday . George Sherrill threw off flat ground Monday and could return to the bullpen shortly . Jarrod Saltalamacchia is done for the season . J.D. Drew won't return from the disabled list when he's eligible . Brandon Morrow will make his first major league start Friday against the Yankees . There's a chance Joba Chamberlain will begin 2009 in the bullpen . Chris Lambert is back up with the Tigers and still struggling . Mike Mussina has earned his 17th win . Jarrod Washburn will miss a start with a strained abdominal muscle . Aaron Laffey will miss the rest of the season with an inflamed left elbow.
NL Quick Hits: Takashi Saito believes he'll be able to return this season and expects to reclaim the closer role from Jonathan Broxton . Josh Kinney has finally returned to the Cardinals' bullpen 18 months after Tommy John surgery . Jody Gerut has missed four straight games with a sore middle finger . Joe Mather is done for the season . Kaz Matsui (back) has suffered a setback and won't be back until the weekend . Casey Kotchman has finally rejoined the Braves after spending two weeks away with his ailing mother . Billy Wagner is throwing bullpen sessions and could be one week away . Johnny Cueto, currently on the DL, is scheduled to start on Saturday . The Giants have called up young outfielder Nate Schierholtz, but could struggle to find him regular at-bats . Ben Sheets is still optimistic that he'll make his next start.