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.
Game 6: Washington Nationals at Houston Astros
With their backs against the wall in a frenzied and hostile environment, the Washington Nationals got another clutch postseason performance from Stephen Strasburg when they needed it most.
The former No. 1 overall draft pick blanked the Houston Astros for 8 1/3 innings and Ryan Zimmerman hit a solo home run as the Nationals pushed USA TODAY's Simulated World Series to the limit with a 1-0 victory in Game 6.
Strasburg and Justin Verlander matched up in a classic pitcher's duel, combining for 24 strikeouts, with only one mistake between them — a fastball in the middle of the plate that Zimmerman launched 379 feet into the Crawford Boxes in left field for the game's only run.
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CIRCLE OF TRUST: Nationals rely on small stable of pitchers
BOX SCORE:Nationals 1, Astros 0
A screenshot of Ryan Zimmerman's solo home run in the third inning of Game 6 in USA TODAY's Simulated World Series. It was the only run scored in the game. (Photo: Dynasty League Baseball)
The Astros had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth when Josh Reddick hit a towering fly ball down the right-field line with a runner on base, but it landed just to the right of the foul pole. He grounded out on the next pitch to end the inning.
Houston also put runners on base in the sixth and eighth innings against Strasburg, but each time he was able to get a double play to get out of the jam.
In the bottom of the ninth, with Strasburg's pitch count well over 100, the Astros got singles from Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa to put the tying and winning runs on base for rookie slugger Yordan Alvarez.
With one out, the Nationals called on left-hander Sean Doolittle, who got Alvarez to hit a ground ball that Zimmerman turned into a game-ending 3-6-3 double play.
The Nationals' victory sets up a winner-take-all Game 7 with Houston's Zack Greinke facing Washington's Anibal Sanchez with a championship on the line.
Previous Sim Series results
GAME 1: Astros 4, Nationals 0
GAME 2: Astros 10, Nationals 2
GAME 3: Nationals 4, Astros 1
GAME 4:Astros 5, Nationals 3
GAME 5:Nationals 4, Astros 3 (10 innings)
What to watch in (the actual) Game 6
— Operation Shutdown: Stephen Strasburg has turned into one of the greatest postseason pitchers of his generation. Entering Game 6, Strasburg has a 5-2 career record in eight playoff appearances with a 1.34 ERA, 64 strikeouts and six walks.
Even with those high standards, Strasburg showed in Sim Series Game 6 that he may even be capable of pitching even better. He scattered six hits in 8 1/3 shutout innings to keep the Nationals' season alive. That's also the most likely path to victory for the Nationals in the real game.
— Deja vu: If something seems slightly familiar about Ryan Zimmerman hitting a big home run in Houston, it's because that's exactly what happened in the actual Game 1 when the Z-man took Gerrit Cole deep for the franchise's first World Series homer.
His 379-foot shot into the Crawford Boxes in left field plated the only run in Sim Series Game 6 and provided Strasburg with all the offensive support he needed. The Nationals had only three hits off Astros starter Justin Verlander, but Zimmerman had two of them.
— Left on left: There have been very few opportunities in this World Series for either team to exploit the platoon advantage. That's partly because many of the pitchers and hitters are equally adept against both lefties and righties. And also because there are only two left-handed pitchers total on both teams' rosters.
However, one key situation arose in the bottom of the ninth of Sim Series Game 6. With Strasburg reaching the end of the line, the Astros put two runners on base for the first time since the second inning. That brought up lefty-swinging DH Alvarez with the tying run on second and the winning run at first with only one out.
Enter Nationals southpaw Doolittle, who held left-handed batters to a .221 average and .241 on-base percentage during the regular season. Doolittle got Alvarez to roll over on a slider and hit a one-hopper to Zimmerman at first. He started a 3-6-3 double play that ended the game.
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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