Yankees vs. Orioles prediction and odds for Friday, July 28 (Target over in Judge's likely return)

Aaron Judge is set to return on Friday, can he get the Yankees offense going in the right direction?
Jul 21, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees injured outfielder Aaron Judge (99) watches
Jul 21, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees injured outfielder Aaron Judge (99) watches / Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are currently out of the playoff picture heading into a weekend series in Baltimore against the AL East-leading Orioles, but help is reportedly on the way.

Aaron Judge is on track to return from a toe injury that has cost him more than half of this season on Friday for the series opener. Can Judge ignite a Yankees lineup that has suffered without him?

We'll see how Judge performs, but his impact on the lineup is immense and should jumpstart the team at the plate against struggle rookie pitcher Grayson Rodriguez. Further, the team has ace Gerrit Cole on the mound, but will he hold up against the Orioles' emerging lineup?

Yankees vs. Orioles odds, run line and total

Yankees vs. Orioles prediction and pick

The Yankees lineup was far closer to competent with Judge this season, who hit .291 with an on-base percentage of .404 with 19 home runs in 49 games. His mere presence lifts the rest of the team at the plate.

I like the matchup against Rodriguez, who has been up and down from the minor leagues this season and has posted a 6.91 ERA with a glaring walk rate north of four per nine innings.

With Judge in the lineup, Rodriguez is going to have to make good on his pitches. So far, he's been good for too many walks and a staggering 24% home run to fly ball rate this season.

However, I can't trust the Bronx Bombers in this one to get a win. I'd rather play the over with Cole's underlying metrics. The Yankees ace has pitched to a stellar 2.78 ERA, but has an xERA of 3.62 as he has stranded 81% of runners on base. Baltimore is just outside the top 10 in wRC+, a quality lineup that can challenge Cole.

This number is being priced too low with the return of Judge, but also with concern for both pitchers.

Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.