NEW YORK -- For weeks, new Mets manager Mickey Callaway, his coaches and analytics department have brainstormed the best possible Opening Day lineup. A bit of unorthodoxy makes the result all the more interesting. For Opening Day against the Cardinals, Brandon Nimmo will lead off and Noah Syndergaard will bat eighth
NEW YORK -- For weeks, new Mets manager Mickey Callaway, his coaches and analytics department have brainstormed the best possible Opening Day lineup. A bit of unorthodoxy makes the result all the more interesting. For Opening Day against the Cardinals, Brandon Nimmo will lead off and Noah Syndergaard will bat eighth on Thursday for the Mets, while shortstop Amed Rosario will hit ninth.
Callaway said that batting the pitcher eighth takes pressure off Rosario, a 22-year-old who should see fewer breaking balls than he would in the eight hole. And it could potentially give Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce more RBI opportunities in the Nos. 2 and 3 holes.
• Mets' 2018 Opening Day lineup
Batting the pitcher eighth is not a new concept for the Mets, who did it twice last season, once in 2016 and 25 times in '15.
"It made sense," Callaway said. "It's not as much about the pitcher as it is who's hitting at the top of our lineup, and who's going to hit ninth for us. It's not going to be something that happens every game."
The Mets also decided to start Kevin Plawecki at catcher because they like the way he matches up with Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez more than they do Travis d'Arnaud. If Plawecki thrives, he could see the bulk of starts against right-handed pitchers this season.
Better than 2015?
For the first time since coming to the Mets in 2015, Cespedes conducted a multi-topic press conference Wednesday in English, his second language. Though Cespedes often communicates with his teammates, coaches and other team employees in English, he typically uses an interpreter for interviews with the media.
Regardless of the language, Cespedes' message was clear.
"I've been so far on 14 different teams, and this year, so far, is the best team I've been around," Cespedes said, "So I'm really excited to go outside tomorrow with this team, all the fans. I think we have a lot of chances this year. This team, for me, is way better than the team we had in 2015 when we went to the World Series. I think we are ready to go."
Although Todd Frazier spent the end of last season with the Yankees, Thursday will mark his first Opening Day in New York City. He said he's had about two dozen ticket requests already, many from friends and family in his hometown of Toms River, N.J.
"Any Opening Day is exciting," Frazier said. "I think that just makes it that much better for me."
The Mets successfully put outfielder Bryce Brentz, whom they claimed off waivers from the Pirates last week, through the waiver process a second time. Brentz cleared on Wednesday, allowing the Mets to outright him to Triple-A Las Vegas. There, he and Matthew den Dekker give the Mets a measure of outfield depth they did not possess at the start of Spring Training.
Brentz, 29, last appeared in the Majors in 2016, batting .279 in 25 games for the Red Sox. He slugged 31 homers last year at Boston's Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate and was traded to the Pirates on Feb. 20. But Pittsburgh designated Brentz for assignment at the end of Spring Training, exposing him to waivers.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.