PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson has played on good teams, he's played on bad teams and one thing has always been the same.

"The starters always hang together," he said. "It doesn't matter if it's a good team or a bad team, the starters hang together."

But Gibson said in the next breath, "I would probably say [the D-backs' pitchers this year are] more in tune with the rest of the team than most staffs I've been around."

And from competing on the mound to competing at the plate, where dinner is at stake each month, the results have been obvious.

"They have a level of expectation, no question," Gibson said. "They understand the importance of their execution to the gameplan."

Those levels of expectation have started with right-handers Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson at the top of the rotation.

Kennedy, with 17 wins and Hudson, with 13 wins, lead a group of young starters whose veteran presence is 30-year-old Joe Saunders.

"I think the age factor helps," Kennedy said. "Everybody else is in their mid-20's, and I think in the Minor Leagues you feel that way, too.

"Usually when you get to the big leagues, guys are a lot of different ages."

Gutierrez to undergo Tommy John surgery

PHOENIX -- Juan Gutierrez's season is over.

The D-backs right-handed reliever said on Monday that he needs Tommy John surgery on his injured right elbow.

"I got hurt in my elbow, I had an MRI on Friday and that showed I have to get Tommy John surgery," he said.

Gutierrez, who has been on the disabled list since May 25 with a shoulder issue, was shut down twice as he rehabbed back to the big leagues before he injured his elbow in a simulated game last Tuesday at Salt River Fields.

"When I started my rehab program, I started to feel it in my elbow, so I told them, 'I'm not ready to come back,'" Gutierrez said.

In that simulated game, he was supposed to throw 35 pitches, but could only throw 15.

He said the team then scheduled an MRI which showed that he needed the surgery, which requires a recovery time of 8-12 months.

"It's hard," he said. "It's frustrating, but what I have to do is keep working hard and get stronger for next year to try to get back."

The 28-year-old had a 5.40 ERA in 20 appearances this year.

Kennedy credits routine for consistency

PHOENIX -- Ian Kennedy has two goals: To stay consistent and stay healthy.

And as he closes in on his second season around 200 innings, Kennedy has achieved those goals and then some, as he leads the National League with 17 wins.

"We have a really good program here that I like to follow," he said about the D-backs' strength and conditioning regimen that has allowed him to go deep into games consistently.

"For me, doing my rotator cuff exercises and the conditioning part of it, that's what's really important," Kennedy said.

The 26-year-old said he hasn't changed much from 2010, when he posted a 3.80 ERA in 194 innings.

"There's little parts in the middle of the season that I've adjusted and not thrown as much between starts, especially around start No. 20," he said. "Around that time, you know your stuff's going to be there.

"I used to be really tough on myself in the bullpen, but I kind of cut those down and it allows me to feel good, whereas maybe the end of July, early August, I had a little fatigue and was battling it."

Kennedy has pitched seven innings or more 17 times this year and has a 9-2 record in 11 starts post-July.

"The second time around, you know it's going to happen, so you can kick back," Kennedy said.