Six Reasons Why Dodgers Can Win 2017 World Series
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers face a difficult, but not impossible task in order to capture their first World Series championship in 29 years. The club must overcome a 3-2 deficit to the Houston Astros by winning two consecutive elimination games at Dodger Stadium.

Through five contests, the Dodgers have outscored the Astros, 30-28, but still find themselves trailing in the series. This is largely due to the fact that Houston has posted a +4 run differential in their three wins against Los Angeles.

The Dodgers found themselves on the wrong end of a pair of extra-inning classics in Games 2 and 5, but at the very least, have shown a tendency to come back in the later innings without letting adversity get the best of them.

With the series shifting back to Los Angeles, here are six reasons why the Dodgers can win the 2017 World Series once it’s all said and done.

Home-field advantage

Looking to overcome a series deficit, the Dodgers return home for Game 6 on Tuesday, and if necessary, Game 7 on Wednesday.

During the regular season, the club won a franchise-best 57 games at Dodger Stadium. Thus far in the postseason, the Dodgers are 5-1 at home — their only loss coming in Game 2 against the Astros.

Justin Verlander is not invinceable

Justin Verlander has been everything and more for the Astros since the club acquired him at the August waiver trade deadline.

In five regular season starts for Houston, Verlander pitched to a minuscule 1.06 ERA and 0.65 WHIP over 34 innings with 43 strikeouts to five walks.

He’s been just as good during the postseason, allowing seven earned runs in 30.2 innings (2.05 ERA). Verlander’s performance against the New York Yankees in the American League Championship earned him MVP honors.

Despite his success, the Dodgers have given him the most trouble out of his three playoff opponents this season.

In Game 2, Los Angeles tacked on three runs against Verlander on two home runs in six innings, and were three outs away from tabbing him with his first loss with the Astros.

Verlander began to lose effectiveness during the middle innings and only struck out five batters during the contest, compared to a nine-strikeout performance against the Dodgers in August as a member of the Detroit Tigers.

The Dodgers will face him for the third time this season and the second time in less than a week. Familiarity should help Los Angeles in this case as they look to get the best of the grizzled veteran and force a Game 7.

Better conditions

When the Dodgers hosted the Astros in Games 1 and 2, temperatures hovered around the 100-degree mark on both nights at Dodger Stadium. Not only were playing conditions difficult for the players, but home runs were flying out as if it were Coors Field.

The two contests saw a combined 11 home runs slugged between both teams, but that figures to be a different story on Tuesday.

Temperatures in Los Angeles have dropped to normal levels — the mid-60s — for this time of year. As a result of the cooler weather, there should be less fly balls leaving the ballpark.

This bodes well for the Dodgers, as the Astros have shown at times to be reliant on the home run ball. It also helps Los Angeles that the series has departed hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park for a better pitching environment.

The Astros additionally no longer have the luxury of using a designated hitter. In this case, Evan Gattis is essentially being swapped in the lineup for the starting pitcher.

Cody Bellinger has turned the corner

After a slow start to the series in which he went hitless in his first 11 at-bats, Bellinger has found his stroke again.

The soon-to-be National League Rookie of the Year is 4-for-his-last-9 at the plate with two doubles, one home run and five RBI.

Bellinger showed how his production can single-handedly impact a game when he hit a go-ahead three-run home run in Game 4, right after the Astros overcame a four-run deficit against Clayton Kershaw.

Bullpen advantage

Entering the eighth inning in Game 2, the Dodgers bullpen had sported an MLB record scoreless streak of 28 consecutive innings in the postseason. That’s no longer the case, as the team has since allowed 13 earned runs in its last 17.2 innings pitched — good for a 6.62 ERA.

The rough stretch inflated Los Angeles’ bullpen ERA to 5.32 in the series. While that number may look unsettling, the Astros’ relief corps has posted a whopping 7.58 ERA — more than two full runs higher than the Dodgers.

That being said, the Dodgers clearly have the advantage in terms of overall talent.

Ken Giles has struggled in the series, yielding five runs in 1.2 innings. If Game 5 was any indication, Astros manager A.J. Hinch has essentially removed him from the role and is now operating with a closer by committee.

Chris Devenski, who replaced Giles in the ninth inning on Sunday, owns a 7.71 ERA in 4.2 innings and has already allowed two home runs in the series.

Luke Gregerson has recorded just one out after a disappointing regular season campaign. Francisco Liriano, a midseason acquisition, hasn’t even appeared in a World Series game despite being on the roster.

Their lack of usage indicates Hinch doesn’t have confidence in calling upon them for high-leverage situations.

Kenley Jansen has allowed runs in back-to-back appearances for the first time all season. Despite this, the Astros don’t have a comparable option to the 2017 Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year in their bullpen.

Brandon Morrow had been lights-out in the postseason prior to Game 5, but he understandably didn’t have his best stuff for a fifth appearance in six days. A day off on Monday should not only benefit him, but the entire staff as well.

Furthermore, don’t discount the possibility of Alex Wood pitching out of the bullpen in Game 6.

Right side of history

Of the previous 11 teams to return home while trailing 3-2 in the World Series, nine have forced a Game 7. And out of those nine teams, eight went on to win the Fall Classic.

Overall, there have been 20 teams to overcome a 3-2 deficit in the World Series — 14 of those doing so by winning Games 6 and 7 at home.

Just last week, the Astros were on the brink of elimination in the ALCS against the Yankees. They returned to Minute Maid Park and completed the comeback in seven games to advance to the World Series. The Dodgers hope to return the favor this time around.