Simulated World Series: Julio Urias untouchable as Dodgers push Rays to the brink

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 4: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Tampa Bay Rays

For one game at least, baseball turned back the clock to witness an absolutely dominant World Series performance by a starting pitcher. Left-hander Julio Urias played the role of a modern-day unicorn in tossing a three-hit shutout as the Los Angeles Dodgers blanked the Tampa Bay Rays 7-0 in Game 4 of USA TODAY's annual Simulated World Series. 

Urias (1-0) was economical with his pitches and stuck out only four batters, but he benefited from three double plays and never really got into trouble in leading the Dodgers to a commanding three games to one lead in the series.

BOX SCORE:Dodgers 7, Rays 0

FULL PLAY-BY-PLAY:Urias untouchable as Dodgers blank Rays

(How rare is Urias' gem? In an era of extensive bullpen use, no pitcher has tossed a complete game in the World Series since Johnny Cueto of the Kansas City Royals in Game 2 of the 2015 Fall Classic. The last time anyone threw a shutout in the World Series was in 2014 when the San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner blanked the Royals in Game 5.)

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager continued his hot hitting with a two-run homer in the third inning — his third in four games — to open the scoring. Mookie Betts reached base four times and Cody Bellinger put an exclamation point on the blowout with a three-run shot in the seventh. 

A screenshot of Cody Bellinger's 442-foot home run to right field off Rays pitcher Pete Fairbanks in the Dodgers' eventual 7-0 win in Game 4 of USA TODAY's 2020 Simulated World Series. (Photo: Dynasty League Baseball)

The Rays only had five baserunners the entire game against Urias and only twice had anyone reach second base. Any hopes of mounting a late rally were dashed when they grounded into double plays in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings. 

Tampa Bay starter Ryan Yarbrough (0-1) allowed four runs (three earned) in four innings of work.

As L.A. looks to close out the series, Game 5 will feature a rematch of Game 1 starters Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers and Tyler Glasnow for the Rays.

ANALYSIS: Game 4 starters Urias, Yarbrough turn flexibility into strength

SCHEDULE: Dates, times and TV information for World Series

What to watch in (the actual) Game 4

— Dominant Dodger starters: Much like Walker Buehler did in the real Game 3 on Friday night, Urias never let the Rays mount any kind of a scoring threat. Buehler allowed three hits and one walk in his six innings. In Sim Series game 4, Urias yielded three hits and two walks. As a result, Tampa Bay left just two runners on base in both games. That combination of excellent pitching and solid defense can be deadly when paired with the Dodgers' explosive offense. 

— Rays' defensive liabilities: While the Rays have some excellent defensive players in outfielders Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot, as well as third baseman Joey Wendle, there are also some holes in the lineup. 

Although it didn't show up in the box score, Seager's two-run home run in the third inning would have been just a solo shot if not for the limited range of shortstop Willy Adames. 

Dynasty League Baseball has defensive range ratings for each player — and Adames is statistically one of the worst defensive shortstops in the majors. According to Statcast, Adames ranked 39th out of 39 at the position in with -6 Outs Above Average during the 2020 regular season. As a result, he gets a D range rating in the simulation … and Betts' ground ball up the middle in the third ended up getting past Adames and into center field for a hit.  

One other note, Rays catcher Mike Zunino has been extremely effective in the playoffs blocking pitches in the dirt. However, Zunino wasn't good at all during the regular season in that area. The game gives him a D rating in both pitch blocking and pitcher handling (Statcast has him -5 runs in pitch framing or 61st out of 62). In Sim Series Game 4, Zunino had two passed balls and a throwing error.

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)

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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