ST. LOUIS - The Mets have lined up their biggest guns to face the Nationals in a critical series next week. Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard will take on the NL East-leading Nationals beginning Monday, when the teams tangle in a three-game set in Washington.

Syndergaard will start on regular rest with the Mets going with a five-man rotation, at least through one turn. "We were not ready to commit to anybody just yet as a spot starter," manager Terry Collins said.

Nevertheless, the Mets intend to use spot starters to help manage workloads. They could revert to a six-man rotation once Steven Matz comes back from his lat injury.

Already, Collins said the Mets have seen the benefits of using an extra starter. Said Collins: "If we went on a five-man rotation throughout the year, [their innings limits] border on right where they'd better be."

Ovation for deGrom

The Mets greeted Jacob deGrom with a standing ovation when he arrived at the ballpark Friday, Collins said, a nod to the righthander's dominant All-Star Game performance. He put himself on the map by striking out the side on 10 pitches.

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Collins watched on TV when a friend called to tell him that deGrom was coming into the game. "I've seen it," Collins said. "I've seen him strike out eight in a row one night. I've seen it all. Nobody needed to call me and say, 'Wow, did you see that?' Well, I've seen it. I've been watching."

Injury updates

Travis d'Arnaud (sprained left elbow) has progressed to swinging a bat while adding some catching. But Collins said it's still unclear when d'Arnaud will be ready to play in minor-league rehab games.

Rafael Montero (rotator cuff inflammation) has started throwing in Gulf Coast League games. But a return remains in the distant future.