The Phillies invested almost $200 million in a pair of power hitters in the offseason and spent another $10 million on a closer to try to snap the National League’s longest playoff drought.

As we approach Memorial Day weekend, this 2022 Phillies team looks a lot like the 2021 Phillies, both plagued by a shaky bullpen and a lack of production at shortstop and center field. And both always seemingly stuck in .500 mediocrity.

When you’re looking for someone to blame, David Murphy contends that it shouldn’t be the manager. Firing Joe Girardi wouldn’t do much because, like every competent manager, he’s irrelevant in today’s game.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport,

❓Do you think firing Girardi would make a difference for the Phillies? Email us back for a chance to be featured in the newsletter.

Inquirer Sports Daily is taking Monday off for Memorial Day. We’ll return to your inbox bright and early Tuesday morning.

Do the Phillies have a Ranger Suárez problem?

Ranger Suárez was in legendary company last season, becoming the first pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1968 to post a sub-1.50 ERA in at least 100 innings while making a minimum of 10 starts. No one could have expected him to continue at that pace in 2022, but the Phillies couldn’t have expected this much of a slip. Scott Lauber explores the issues the Phillies face with a pitcher who has never thrown more than 124⅓ innings in a season.

Phillies top prospect Bryson Stott is off to a rough start, but he insists his confidence is not shaken.

Aaron Nola very nearly took the team’s problematic bullpen out of the equation Thursday night. Nola pitched into the ninth, striking out 10, and Corey Knebel recorded the last two outs of a 4-1 victory over the Braves.

Next:The Phillies open a three-game series in New York against the Mets at 7:10 p.m. Friday (NBCSP). Zach Eflin (1-3, 3.65 ERA) will be opposed by Mets right-hander Carlos Carrasco (4-1, 3.50).

Should Harden return next season? Swipe and decide

Is James Harden worth $47.3 million and a potential long-term deal this offseason? What about Tobias Harris’ $37.6 million for 2022-23? Those types of decisions are usually left up to folks like Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand. But Inquirer beat writers Keith Pompey and Gina Mizell gave their opinion in our Sixers offseason “stay or go” feature.

And you can, too. Fans aren’t often given a chance to play GM and make their voices heard on front office decisions from their favorite sports teams. But we provide you that very opportunity.

Fleet Street

Check out the baby face on Brenden Aaronson, back in the days when the “Medford Messi” played for the Union’s reserve team, which then was called Bethlehem Steel.

Now, Aaronson is the latest transfer to the Premier League, joining Leeds United. The Union collect a nice sell-on fee out of the deal because they developed the young talent, who has become a star on the United States men’s national team as well.

Jonathan Tannenwald has all the details on the transaction.

However, if you’re thinking to yourself, “I swear I stayed up late to watch the Union play the Portland Timbers this past Sunday and saw that face,” you’re not all wrong. Paxten, Brenden’s 18-year-old brother, saw an extended run of playing time in the victory.

Paxten did well and may be called on again when the Union travel to New England to take on last season’s Supporters’ Shield winners, the New England Revolution.

Next: The Union play the New England Revolution at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (PHL17) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass.

Worth a look

  • Bond beyond the field: Temple lacrosse seniors Belle Mastropietro and Julie Schickling have played together since middle school and hope that connection will lead the Owls to an AAC championship next season.

  • Nationals next for Penn: For the first time in program history, the seventh-ranked Penn women’s rowing team is bringing a full complement of boats to the NCAA championship this weekend in Sarasota, Fla.

  • Do-everything talent to Penn State: Northeast’s Ken Talley has played just about everywhere on the football field, proving his talent isn’t limited to one position.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from David Murphy, Scott Lauber, Keith Pompey, Gina Mizell, Jonathan Tannenwald, Joey Piatt, Isabella DiAmore, and Melanie Heller.