It's hardly time for Dodgers fans to get nervous over Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is off his game, but now is not the time to panic

Easy now, you know how you get when you hyperventilate. Take slow breaths, think gentle streams, find your inner baseball zen.

Understandably difficult, given the entire world wants to know ... what is wrong with Clayton Kershaw?

Hey, now, I said slow breaths. This overreaction has been fueled by Kershaw being closer to a very good pitcher, rather than someone who flew to the mound with his red cape waving behind him.

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Kershaw has started six games this season, going 1-2 with a 3.72 ERA. Toss in his two playoff losses to the Cardinals and the Dodgers have won two of his last eight starts. It's panic in the streets, only it's not of course.

For someone who has posted a sub-2.00 ERA in each of his two previous, Cy Young-winning seasons, this is, at best, mildly curious. Last year, after six starts, he had a 3.57 ERA, and you may remember that season turned out all right.

If Kershaw were truly struggling, if he was getting hammered and his fastball had lost several mph or his curve was suddenly hanging on a string, then go ahead and scream into the cursed night.

Only none of that is really happening. He's off, and clearly frustrated by it, but only a smidge. The smidge that represents the difference between being very good and oh-my-heavens great.

Kershaw, 27, is throwing just as hard as he did last season. He leads the majors in strikeouts. And if his WHIP is up slightly over the last two seasons, it is still an excellent 1.14.

Yes, he's given up five home runs after allowing only nine all of last season. If it continues, then it's a concern. Yes, for now opponents are having more success with runners in scoring position. But it's May 5 and there is a very long way to go. His location is occasionally off from his typically consistent form, but not too often.

Let's face it, he has spoiled us beyond reason these last four years when he was the best pitcher in baseball. Spoiled himself, too, as evidenced by his irritation Monday night in his brief postgame interview. And all that success can bring a lot of unnecessary scrutiny.

I'm thinking after seven years and over 200 starts, opponents haven't suddenly figured him out. His razor sharp control will return shortly and all will be right in the world. Until then, close your eyes and try some nice chanting.

Twitter: @stevedilbeck

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