Simulated World Series: MVP Corey Seager leads Dodgers to elusive championship

How will this year's World Series play out? Using the Dynasty League Baseball online simulation, USA TODAY Sports' Steve Gardner and DLB designer Mike Cieslinski will pre-play each game to provide some insight into the key matchups and strategy fans can expect to see in the Fall Classic. (Last year's Sim Series had the Nationals defeating the Astros in 7 games.)

Game 7: Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

The question will become part of World Series lore: What if Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash had stuck with starter Blake Snell instead of taking him out in the sixth inning with a 1-0 lead in Game 6? Could the Rays have held on to force Game 7? Would they have eventually lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers anyway?

That's why we have USA TODAY's annual Simulated World Series. 

In our alternate universe, the Rays did win to force a Game 7. But some questionable bullpen decisions and some timely hitting by the Dodgers off Rays relievers Diego Castillo and Nick Anderson propelled Los Angeles to a 10-6 victory and a Sim Series championship. 

BOX SCORE:Dodgers 10, Rays 6

FULL PLAY-BY-PLAY:Seager, Urias lead Dodgers to a title in Game 7

Julio Urias strikes out Kevin Kiermaier for the final out in Game 7 of USA TODAY's annual Simulated World Series as the Dodgers defeated the Rays 10-6. (Photo: Dynasty League Baseball)

After the Rays had battled back from a five-run deficit to tie the game 6-6, the Dodgers broke it open in the seventh against Castillo on walks to Will Smith and Cody Bellinger, followed by an RBI hit by A.J. Pollock and a two-run single by Austin Barnes through a drawn-in infield.

The decision to go with Castillo instead of ace reliever Nick Anderson to face the lower half of the Dodgers lineup was understandable, but not having Anderson ready at the first sign of trouble may have been the Rays' undoing. 

Anderson's ridiculous strikeout rate (14.3 K/9) might have helped escape the jam with Barnes at the plate and runners on second and third with no outs. However, when Anderson did enter the game to start the bottom of the eighth, he immediately gave up a double to Corey Seager and an RBI single to Justin Turner.

Just like in the actual World Series, Julio Urias was perfect in the eighth and ninth innings to keep the Rays from even thinking about mounting a last-gasp rally. 

Seager, Urias dominant

In another instance of simulation meets reality, Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager was the slam-dunk choice for World Series MVP. Seager got the Dodgers on the board first in Game 7 with a solo homer off Rays starter Charlie Morton. He finished the game 3-for-3 with two runs scored and was hit by a pitch twice.

For the series, Seager hit .444/.531/.926 with four home runs and seven RBI. Just as he did in the actual World Series, he led all players in runs scored with nine. 

The only other player who might have been considered for MVP honors was Dodger lefty Julio Urias. He tossed a shutout in Sim Series Game 4 and came back to hurl 1 1/3 scoreless innings to close out Game 7. In his two appearances, he allowed just five baserunners and held the Rays to a batting average of .097.

Turner's COVID diagnosis

One other unanswered question from the aftermath of the real World Series ending in six games is what would have happened in Game 7 once Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner's COVID-19 test came back positive. 

Under MLB's protocol, the game would need to be delayed until all players on both teams' Game 7 rosters tested negative and were asymptomatic. This would have major implications on not only who the Dodgers would substitute for Turner at third base, but also who both teams would have available to pitch. 

Previous 2020 Sim Series results

Game 1:Dodgers 5, Rays 1

Game 2:Rays 4, Dodgers 2

Game 3:Dodgers 13, Rays 12 (10 innings)

Game 4:Dodgers 7, Rays 0

Game 5:Rays 6, Dodgers 1

Game 6:Rays 6, Dodgers 0

Simulate your own World Series. Get a FREE one-month subscription to Dynasty League Baseball online by going to DynastyLeagueBaseball.com, selecting the monthly option and entering code USA2 at checkout.

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