MLB.com Columnist

Tracy Ringolsby

NL West looking for a winner

3 teams tied for tops; D-backs, Padres not far behind heading into Monday

NL West looking for a winner

Four weeks into the regular season, there are a dozen Major League teams with a winning record. None of them are in the National League West.

Check out those Monday morning standings. It is a three-way tie at the top in the division. The Dodgers, Giants and Rockies are all sitting at .500.

"This division is up for grabs," said Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, whose Major League-leading 11th home run on Sunday was critical as Colorado completed a weekend sweep in Arizona. "Nobody is going to run away with it."

Well, nobody has so far, including the Dodgers, who feature baseball's highest payroll; the Giants, who have won the World Series the past three even-numbered years; or the D-backs, who made the significant offseason moves of signing Zack Greinke and trading for Shelby Miller.

There is only a 3 1/2-game difference between the three teams atop the division and the last-place Padres, whose .360 winning percentage is second lowest in the NL to the Braves, who at 6-18 are 8 1/2 games back in the NL East, six games behind the fourth-place Marlins.

This is a division in which the Giants are the only team with a winning record at home (8-6). It is a division in which the five teams are a combined 33-27 on the road. It is a division with a 21-33 record outside its own division. Even the Rockies, who have had a better record at home than on the road in every year of their existence and have had a winning road record just once (41-40 in 2009) in their 23 seasons are 8-4 at lower elevations.

Here's what has happened in the NL West and what needs to happen:

Dodgers
1-2 punch: Clayton Kershaw has been, well, Clayton Kershaw, and Kenta Maeda has made an impact in his debut season. The Dodgers are 8-3 in games those two have started, and they have combined for a 1.73 ERA. The rest of the rotation, however, is a combined 2-6, and Los Angeles is 5-10 in their starts.

Slugging: The offense has been sluggish. The Dodgers don't have a .300 hitter, and nobody has more than three home runs. They rank eighth in the NL in runs scored, ahead of only the Padres in the division, and 22nd in baseball in OPS.

Kershaw's dominant shutout

Giants
Payoff: Offseason free-agent additions Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija have combined with Madison Bumgarner to give the Giants a dynamic Big 3 in the rotation. But San Francisco has only won three of 10 games started by veteran holdover Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, during which they have combined for a 7.74 ERA, including 5.13 in the pitching-friendly confines of AT&T Park.

Warming up: The offense has been good, thanks to the return of Hunter Pence, who has stepped into the cleanup spot and leads the team with five home runs and 22 RBIs. Angel Pagan, however, is the only regular hitting .300 or better (.315). Free-agent addition Denard Span is adjusting, but he needs to improve his .245 average and .675 OPS.

Pence's two-run homer to right

Rockies
Sluggers: Trevor Story has stepped into the shortstop void, playing solid defense and equaling the Major League record for home runs by a rookie in April (10, set by Jose Abreu of the White Sox). And then there is third baseman Arenado, who is showing that his NL-leading 42 home runs last year (22 on the road) was no fluke. He leads the Majors with 11, and Story is second on a team that leads the Majors with 39 home runs -- 22 on the road, which ranks second in MLB to the Mets (24).

Rearming: The veterans have come up short. Jorge De La Rosa, now on the disabled list, and Jordan Lyles, now at Triple-A Albuquerque, combined for two quality starts out of nine and a 9.00 ERA. Help, however, is on the way. It just depends on how long the Rockies want to wait before calling up Jeff Hoffman, the key to last season's Troy Tulowitzki trade, who is 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA at Albuquerque, and former first-round Draft pick Kyle Freeland. Freeland grew up pitching in high altitude in Denver, and he is 3-1 with a 0.87 ERA and five walks in 31 innings with Double-A Hartford.

Rockies hit back-to-back homers

D-backs
Adjustments:
Greinke, lured away from the Dodgers with a six-year, $206.5 million free-agent contract, has not been close to his vintage self. The right-hander, who is 82-26 with a 2.82 ERA the past five seasons, is 2-2 with a 5.50 ERA this year and has given up seven runs twice. He and the rest of the rotation have combined for the 29th-highest ERA in the big leagues at 5.66.

Take a swing: Paul Goldschmidt leads the team with six home runs and 16 RBIs, but his .239 batting average underscores the fact that he is not where he wants to be. He and David Peralta are a dangerous 3-4 combo, who figure to go on a tear before long. Peralta is hitting only .255 with two home runs and nine RBIs, well below the standard he set last year (.312, .893 OPS, 26 doubles, 10 triples and 17 home runs).

Goldschmidt's solo homer

Padres
No relief: Closer Fernando Rodney has not allowed an earned run, and he is 4-for-4 in saves, but there's little help for him in the bullpen. The rest of the relievers have blown all five of their save opportunities and have combined for a 6.57 ERA.

Support: James Shields isn't overpowering, but he can pitch. Now if he can just get a few runs in support, he will be able to win a few games, too. Shields is 0-4 in five starts (all of which San Diego has lost). He has had four quality starts, but the Padres have scored only six runs total in his five games. They have scored 89 runs in the 20 games that other pitchers have started.

Rodney nails down the save

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.