For me, the most questionable pitching move in the series was lifting Ryan Helsley after one hitter in Game 2.
He had a big strikeout of Wil Myers on a triple-digit heater to end the fifth inning and send the Cardinals into the sixth with a 4-2 lead.
The Cardinals added two more in the top half of that inning, making it 6-2 entering the bottom of the sixth.
Shildt went to Genesis Cabrera next, and the two leadoff walks he allowed set up the Fernando Tatis Jr. three-run homer against Giovanny Gallegos that tilted the series for good. (Yes, I know the Padres did not have a lead off that Tatis homer. But it was the turning point. Machado homered again right after Tatis, and the Padres were rolling.)
Things were not the same after that.
Shildt did think about going back to Helsley, who would have had to face at least two hitters the following inning because of the three-batter rule, which says a reliever can be lifted if he does not face three batters but ends the inning, but must face three total (the one in the previous inning counts) if he returns after an inning ends.
I asked Shildt about the move. Here's what he said.
"There was (consideration)," Shildt said. 'He (Helsley) was asked to go out twice last night, and he was brought into a high-leverage situation. I like to bring Cabrera in clean (no runners on base). Take him through (Trent) Grisham (third batter up that inning). He (Cabrera) has to start with Nola, but he's more than capable against all those guys. And then we would have Gio (Giovanny Gallegos) for Tatis (Fernano Tatis Jr.) if we need him. Ideally, I was hoping to at least get two (outs) and then bring in Gio for Tatis, with maybe a guy on. But, a walk to Nola. He's a walk guy. And then the walk to Cronenworth. Give him (Cabrera) credit. He came back and made pitches to Grisham. And then we went to Gio. Tatis put a good at-bat on him, and Gio put a ball where he could put a swing on it."
So, in short . . .
Helsley had pitched 1.1 innings the game before -- and while Shildt did not say this, using him more than he did in Game 2 could have made him off limits for Game 3.
Cabrera's walks were brutal. Game changing. Series changing.
Gallegos had two strikes on Tatis and didn't get his slider low enough.
Series changed because of it.