Within the next few days, the Yankees will have clinched every possible possible advantage in the American League. The only issue? The playoffs don’t start until next weekend.

The Yankees will have five or six regular season games to go where the outcomes are deemed irrelevant to the final standings. With that being said, the Yankees can choose to play these games two different ways.  They can try to win them all with their ‘A lineup’ or they can sit all of their regular players and ‘rest’ them for the post-season run. Momentum is a key in sports and two of the NFL’s most successful franchises have adopted two different styles for these scenarios. Peyton Manning’s Colts decided to forgo chasing the perfect season after a 13-0 regular season start in 2009 while Belichick’s Patriots went full throttle in 2007. With that being said, should the Yankees play like Bill or Peyton during the final week of the regular season?

No, I did not consult Bill before writing this article--AP Photo

For me, momentum has always been the key advantage in sports. The team that carries the momentum has the mental and physical advantage over their opponents. Baseball fans have seen it happen year after year—the team that carries the momentum into the post-season wins it all or gets pretty damn close. The Giants did that last season. The Yankees (Hi A-Rod) did that in 2009. The Colorado Rockies came out of nowhere to make the World Series in 2007!

Going into the last week of the regular season, the Detroit Tigers currently have that momentum, winning 13 of 14. They have a 25 win monster named Justin Verlander as well, which only makes them even scarier. I disgress.

For the Yankees, I think they should mix a little Colt with a little Patriot. The core post-season starters (CC, Nova, Colon) should all get one more start on a set pitch count. The main guys in the bullpen (Mo, Robertson) should only appear two, three more times max. The rest of the pitchers should keep getting their work in as they make a case for the post-season. It’s been a long season and the main Yankee starters have been pushed to their inning maxs. Give them a little time now before the bullets are live again next week.

Offensively, the Yankees need to keep putting their best lineup out there. They are going to face the Red Sox and Rays, so they are going to get quality at-bats against good starting pitching. I’m not worried about  injury or any of that. Keep rolling Grandy, Teix, Cano out there on a daily basis and let them hit. The elder Yankees (Jeter, A-Rod, Hip Hip) will probably see a reduced role and that’s fine. Granted, no one is worrying about Derek Jeter going into October.

Given the quality of opponent the Yankees will face over the final regular season games and the opponents they’ll face in the playoffs, it’s business as usual for the Yankee lineup. Quality at-bats and some homers will go a long way now. Pitching is a different animal, but give the regulars some work and let the kids clean up the final innings. Mo really doesn’t need anymore work and should just take a vacation for the week.

One final note—This is a great problem to have if you are the Yankees. Before the season even started, 46 of 50 ESPN ‘experts’ had the Red Sox winning the division. All we heard was Crawford, Gonzalez, Papelbon, etc. How can anyone stop them, blah blah blah. Well, at season’s end the Yankees may be ten games better than the Red Sox. Tell the Extreme Sox Pats Network that the Yanks are your 2011 AL East Champs.