Some would say banging your head against a table repeatedly is a sign of insanity. Others might believe punching a brick wall qualifies in that category.
Statistics would tell you that running Luke Weaver to the mound in order to face the Chicago Cubs is a better definition. But the St. Louis Cardinals clearly don't believe it, despite his 0-3 record and 10.89 ERA in five career starts against their National League Central rivals.
Weaver will take the ball Friday night in the opener of a three-game weekend series at Busch Stadium with St. Louis badly needing to go on a winning streak in order to prop up its dwindling playoff hopes.
The young right-hander has taken a step back after being the team's best starting pitcher for most of the last six weeks of 2017. Weaver's fastball command has been lacking, and he has not been able to make up for it by pinpointing his offspeed pitches.
Weaver enters this start with a 5-9 record and 4.79 ERA, and was a 7-2 loser at the Cubs on Saturday, permitting three runs, seven hits and five walks in four-plus innings. Weaver, who fanned two, has failed to last six innings in eight of his last 10 starts.
"I felt like I was making some good pitches," he told mlb.com of his last start, "but all day there were two hard-hit balls, and the rest of them were just barrels and finding holes."
At 51-51, the Cardinals enter this one in fourth place in the division, nine games behind Chicago. With only 60 games left and the trade deadline arriving Tuesday, St. Louis likely has to make an impression this weekend or perhaps take a rare turn as a seller.
That's not an issue for the Cubs, who chose the most dramatic way to end a 5-4 homestand Thursday. Rookie David Bote's game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning was followed almost immediately by a 453-foot walkoff bomb from Anthony Rizzo that secured a 7-6 win over Arizona.
The sudden plot twist gave Chicago a 60-42 record, extending its division lead on Milwaukee to three games, and gave it a boost as it essays life without third baseman Kris Bryant. A sore left shoulder forced the 2016 NL Most Valuable Player to the 10-day disabled list.
Bote is showing that he might be better than replacement player value. In his first 42 MLB at-bats, he's hitting .310 with nine RBIs and has drawn eight walks.
"He does everything right," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said to mlb.com. "He's very important to us now."
Lefty Mike Montgomery (3-3, 3.73) gets the ball for Chicago. He's 3-2 in 10 starts since replacing injured Yu Darvish in the rotation, including a good six innings Saturday night in a no-decision against the Cardinals. Montgomery yielded just five hits and a run with two walks and three strikeouts.
In 10 career outings against St. Louis, four of them starts, Montgomery is 1-1 with a 1.25 ERA, permitting only 13 hits in 21 2/3 innings.